The unexpected enemy: IU South Bend geese

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By: Cassidy Martenson


When someone thinks of the scariest animal, what comes to mind? Sharks and snakes are both valid answers. However, both are wrong. The most feared animal is the IU South Bend goose. 

The geese at IU South Bend are typically seen near Campus Housing, but this year, the geese are spreading throughout campus. The geese have always been heavily present on campus. 

“Up through 2019 we were removing approximately 125-150 geese from campus annually,” Mike Prater, director of facilities management, said.

This process is done in the summer when the geese cannot fly, and they are relocated per Indiana Department of Natural Resources guidelines. 

Canada Geese are a migratory species. They travel from one place to another during specific times of year for things like breeding and nesting. 

“Geese often return to areas where they’ve had previous nesting success,” Jessica Merkling, urban wildlife biologist for the DNR, said.

Merkling adds that geese are attracted to areas that have food and water close together. Campus is located directly on the St. Joseph River, which provides water and Kentucky BlueGrass. It is important to not provide any additional food to the geese. This could make them more aggressive and disrupt their natural behavior. 

The river also offers nesting locations for the geese. From March to June the geese are nesting and will defend their nests if necessary. Students should give nesting geese space to avoid an aggressive encounter. Signs that a goose is becoming defensive include hissing/honking, flapping wings and head pumping.

IU South Bend typically has one or two aggressive geese that must be removed from campus due to safety concerns. 

“Students should report if they are being routinely threatened by a goose or pair, that pair may need to be removed if they are in the main thoroughfare,” Prater said. 

At any point, an individual has the right to defend themselves from an aggressive goose. However, non-lethal hazing such as making loud noises, making yourself appear larger and shaking coins can be used to deter geese. This is not recommended when animals are defending their young, injured or eating. 

“The best long-term solutions for living with Canada geese other than supporting hunting in the season where legal and safe to do so, is to make habitat changes,” Merkling said. 

Adding a native vegetation buffer will help deter geese and create bird and pollinator habitat, water filtration and soil stabilization. 

Contact Facilities Management to report aggressive geese by calling (574) 520-4386. For more information on Canada geese management, visit

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