Erik Gingles was biking along the Moncton side of the riverfront trail when he saw a family of Canada geese waiting to cross.
He pulled over to let them go and the mother crossed first, he said, followed by four or five goslings and then another adult goose.
The geese sat on the grass on the left side of the trail and Gingles started recording a video while rolling his bike past on the far right side.
“And all of a sudden, the one at the end did not appreciate me filming them and flew straight at me,” Gingles said.
“It just happened so fast. You really don’t have much time to think about it.”
Gingles’s phone was the only thing between him and the goose.
It wasn’t until he got home from his ride that he noticed that the goose had broken skin on his shoulder.
Alan Hanson, a Sackville-based biologist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, said the spring is when there is more interaction between geese and park users.
“When they establish a nest, the male will defend that nest area. So they will approach people and hiss at them and perhaps flap their wings,” said Hanson.
He said there are two different populations of Canada geese in the region — migratory ones that breed in Labrador and winter in the New England states or further south, and resident Canada geese that can spend their entire lifecycle in New Brunswick if weather conditions allow.
The population of resident Canada geese is growing in the Maritime provinces as well as other locations across North America, said Hanson. At one point, he said they were almost considered extinct but there’s since been a large population boom.
Between 1992 and 1997, he said approximately 4,000 resident Canada geese were released in New Brunswick.
What geese are looking for
Hanson said geese are looking for a few main things during breeding season — an island within a pond for their nest and lush green grass to feed on.
Parks often have these things, which makes them attractive for Canada geese, said Hanson.
Parks can limit breeding geese in the area by putting tall vegetation between the water area and the lower mown areas, said Hanson, or with the use of fencing.
He said geese don’t like tall vegetation because it could hide predators.
If a Canada goose is approaching you, Hanson said it’s important not to run away because that will encourage the goose to chase you.
He said people should not approach the nest and give the geese lots of space.
If a Canada goose does try to fly at you, like the one that Gingles encountered, Hanson recommends putting your arms in front of your face.
“It’s not the goose’s intention to actually hit you,” he said. “They’re just trying to chase you away.”