The University of Waterloo is home to around 36,670 students, but as I’m sure you know it’s also home to a large population of Canada Geese. If you’ve heard of these geese then you realise that the people in Waterloo treat these geese as some sort of superstition “avoid the geese of UW.” These geese are known for their aggressive behaviour, they pick a spot to nest and defend it with their lives. The students of UW are aware of this and have even created a website called GooseWatch, which monitors the location of nests so students can avoid them.
In recent years the geese have been choosing to do something very uncharacteristic of them, they don’t migrate. This telltale sign of autumn is now practised by less geese, especially in the UW area. This is most likely due the winters becoming progressively warmer, causing more grass (their main food source) to be exposed during the winter, and what place in Waterloo has more grass than the University’s huge campus. I’m sure the nearby Columbia Lake also helps draw them in for an overwinter stay.
However when animals spend large amounts of time around humans, we’d expect them to become more docile when around them. As an example just look at seagulls and pigeons, who roam our cities and beaches without fear, so wouldn’t you expect geese to adapt the same type of behaviour. Well as it turns out that may be the case, when asked about the geese Brittany P. said “They are far less prevalent than expected based on the amount of people that talk about them.” I asked Andrew W. if they were as bad as they were hyped up to be and he said, “Honestly not really, I have been near them quite a few times and they just waddle, minding their own business. Besides they are adorable!” These students are new this year to UW and have grown up with the stigma that the geese at UW are hell-spawn, and have found that not to be the case so far in their first year.
So perhaps it’s time we re-evaluate our view on the infamous Canada goose, and hopefully this time around we come to a conclusion that casts a better light on our feathered friends.