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Frequently Asked Questions
Public health and water quality

FAQ Index

Is goose poop a health threat?

No. Despite claims to the contrary, even from people who should know better, all excrement is not created equal. The types of bacteria (and other microorganisms) that occur in goose poop have been the subject of several scientific studies - the best scientific information available indicates that goose poop rarely contains organisms harmful to human health. For more detailed information, see our section on public health.

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Do geese cause the condition called "swimmer's itch"?

No. Canada geese are not responsible for the condition known as "swimmer's itch." "Swimmer's itch" is caused by a waterborne parasite. While this parasite does spend part of its life-cycle in an intermediate host (which can include a large variety of warm blooded animals, including birds), the critical and primary host is a snail. If the parasite is present in a body of water it can not be controlled by addressing potential intermediate host species.

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Is it a health risk if geese cause elevated coliform levels in lakes and ponds?

No. Coliform bacteria are found in the intestinal tracts of all warm-blooded creatures (mammals and birds). Coliforms themselves are not disease-causing; they are just easily measured "indicator organisms" used to determine whether or not fecal matter is present in the water.

Coliform tests are not capable of indicating from which species the coliforms originate, nor whether a true health risk exists. While geese can raise coliform levels, this is of no consequence, because it is known that goose fecal matter does not contain bacteria of concern to human health.

While Canada geese are often blamed for posing a health risk, detailed studies invariably show that when a health threat really does exist, it has nothing to do with geese. Instead, the culprit is often found to be human waste leaking from faulty sewage or septic systems, and/or runoff from animal farms.

For more information, see our section on public health.

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