A pack of black wooden dogs are now guarding the NUHS Illinois campus. The dog silhouettes are a new strategy the university is testing to deter flocks of Canada geese from landing and making a mess. The idea is to post the dog decoys during key times in fall and spring when other natural deterrents are gone.
“When the swans on Lake Janse are gone and the snow melts, the Canada geese flock to our campus,” explains Tom Rohner, director of facilities at NUHS. “Snow cover in winter deters geese from landing because there is nothing for them to eat. In the summer, the swans are naturally territorial and do a good job keeping geese away from Lake Janse. We need another deterrent during the weeks in between those times.”
Rohner researched the dog silhouette strategy after he saw it used at another business. “Apparently, when the geese are flying in V-formation, they see the silhouette and process it in their brain as a shadow of a real animal. They then know not to land at that location.”
In addition to the new dog silhouettes, the university will still contract with the “Geese Police” to help control the geese population. However, the dogs have been added as an extra deterrent, since the geese have grown bolder and no longer respond to previously effective deterrence measures.
“We’re trying this as a test. If it’s effective this year, we may even add motion to the silhouettes, such as adding springs or a movable tail,” says Rohner. The dogs must remain painted black, however, as they only work if they look like a shadow.
There are 24 dogs scattered around campus, all German Shepherds, with 2 different poses.
“We will take down the silhouettes around the lake once the swans come, (typically end of March to mid-April) as we do not know the effect they might have on the swans,” says Rohner. He adds that this is another example of how the department is always looking for natural ways to manage and maintain our campus.