An orca beach toy set by a retention pond in West Ashley scared off the Canada geese that had collected there, at least for awhile. Brian Hicks/Staff

Want to get rid of those pesky Canada geese? Try siccing an orca on them.

An inflatable orca, that is. The killer whale beach toy apparently did the job recently at Oakland Elementary School in West Ashley, a passerby said.

But the orca isn't likely to work any better than coyote decoys placed on docks along Charleston Harbor, the remote control boats at area golf courses or any of countless other techniques property owners have tried to discourage the geese and other messy birds.


A fake coyote stands watch on a Mount Pleasant dock on Charleston Harbor Friday, August 31, 2018. Brad Nettles/Staff

They all seem to do the job — at first.

"Everybody will tell you they've got a fix or a cure," said Marshall Ormand, manager of the city of Charleston Golf Course on James Island, where a lot of techniques have been tried. "Then the geese come back."

Canada geese are the ubiquitous black, white and gray honkers munching up grass and grain crops across the region, state and country. They're habitual creatures that keep returning to the same place to feed.

They are seen all over the state, taking up residency.

Because they can make a mess and leave their droppings behind, they get to be a problem for managed landscapes.  

Charleston city officials attempt to drive geese from Hampton Park (copy)

A resident flock of Canada geese raked the lawn in Hampton Park in 2010. File

The orca placed behind the fence by a retention pond at the elementary school wasn't there to scare off geese. The orca is the school's mascot, and staff moves it from spot to spot for school spirit, said Andy Pruitt, a Charleston County School District spokesman.

The municipal golf course has tried everything from shining lasers to setting out coyote urine scent, before that was banned, Ormand said.

He's heard of other courses in the area that tried the Goosinator, a remote control toy boat that looks like a comic book fish and flails around like it's crazy.

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources recommends "goose dispersal techniques" such as fireworks, propane cannons, wiring, fencing, shrubs, rock walls or even grape extract scents. Geese apparently don't like the smell of grapes.

goose in traffic

Canada geese are notorious for waddling across busy roads, taking their time as traffic backs up. Andrew Knapp/Staff

When it comes to geese, though, it's hit or miss.

Most people — even at Trident Tech on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston, where lines of waddling geese stop traffic — just learn to make way.

"We simply coexist," said Trident spokesman David Hansen.   

Reach Bo Petersen Reporter at Facebook, @bopete on Twitter or 1-843-937-5744.

Science and environment reporter. Author of Washing Our Hands in the Clouds.