Liability, Lawsuits, and Avian Wildlife

When most people think about conflicts with wild birds, they usually think of the mess they leave behind, i.e. droppings. This is certainly one of the biggest concerns for Canada Geese and the foundation for much of our business.

However, this time of year, namely nesting season, there is an even bigger concern with geese, gulls, blackbirds, and other avian wildlife: aggression and lawsuit liability. The two biggest offenders that we deal with are easily Canada Geese and the two major gull species: Herring and Ring-billed. For our Spring newsletter this year, we’ll look at how aggressive territorial birds can quickly impact businesses and residences, and WGC/MBM’s PETA and Humane Society of the US approved humane methods of mitigating these conflicts!

Canada Geese Canada Geese are notorious for their territorial aggressiveness in the spring. Geese have been known to attack people, pets, cars, and even silverback gorillas (watch the video) that get too close to where they have decided to nest. It just compounds the issue that geese seem to love nesting right near our doorways and close to our buildings. They don’t see us as predators, but use our activity to protect them from coyotes, foxes, and other natural predators. However, they still see us as invading their territory, even though they picked that spot because we were there. Injuries like bloody noses, concussions, broken bones, and more have all been reported from goose attacks. With that comes the liability, and lawsuits crop up every year against properties that did not manage aggressive geese which ended up attacking and injuring people. We’ve seen and experienced it all, including a case where an aggressive gander knocked over a pregnant woman in a parking lot, just trying to get to the store! Other liabilities with geese include slip and fall accidents, where pedestrians will slip on wet droppings. This is far more common this time of year because of the increased goose activity near our buildings.

How can we help? Lawsuits for aggressive geese can be prevented! Wild Goose Chase, Inc. and Migratory Bird Management, LLC. offer a variety of services to help your property with aggressive nesters. The most effective method is generally to get a permit, pull the nest, and then prevent re-nesting with a daily dog service visit. This is much more effective if we can get dog service in before they nest as it will make your property much less appealing and can help a very stubborn pair decide to move on.

Ring-Billed and Herring gulls are the two gull species that nest in our area. Gulls nest in colonies and can be very aggressive if they are disturbed. The most common complaints about aggressive gulls usually occur when the colony nests on a business’s roof, then attacks roof maintenance workers or even ground level employees just trying to get through the front door. Gulls are expert fliers and can harry their target for an extended period of time, using their wings, feet, sharp beak, and even droppings as a weapon. This is even more dangerous for roof workers, where the risk of falling off the roof is increased. Gulls may also attack people to steal their food, causing liabilities for picnickers and beach goers. Gulls also have a health liability because their droppings contain a massive amount of E.coli and other pathogenic bacteria, which can get into the air system through the roof vents and be circulated around the building. Lawsuits for attacks have been documented, and can be prevented! How can we help? WGC and MBM can offer egg depredation on the gull colony, with permits to pull the nests. Generally, they will try to renest that same year, but we keep at ‘em and the whole colony may move on if they weren’t successful at nesting at that location. We can also also implement structural deterrents to keep the gulls off of your building and make it unappealing as a nesting location.