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Predator Control | Learning Center

There is nothing more frustrating that losing fish to a predator or stepping in bird droppings on your way to your own swimming hole. Knowing your enemy is the best way to determine what control methods you should put in place.

Are you using your pond for fishing, swimming or decorative purposes? Adding decoys will be in your best interest. Between the extra waste and increased weed growth, you know some animals can be problematic.

Don’t wait for a predator to find your pond before utilizing predator control devices. Once geese, swans or other wildlife have claimed your pond as their own, it is difficult to get them to vacate.

Make sure you know your enemy. For example, if you are trying to keep geese out of your pond, you will want to use a swan, alligator or coyote decoy. These animals are naturally unfriendly towards each other. If the geese see one of these decoys as they fly overhead, they are likely to skip over your pond in search for a less crowded water body.
Some animals, like the Blue Heron, compete against their own breed for pond real estate. A blue heron decoy will deter a real heron from landing due to their territorial nature. Just be aware that late April to May (sometimes early June) is mating season. If used too early, your blue heron decoy may attract a heron searching for a mate.
Move your decoys regularly. A stationary decoy will only work for so long before potential predators notice that something’s fishy. Move your decoy regularly to give it a more realistic effect.

Want to learn about specific predators? Check out this article Specific Predator Control.

Specific Predator Control | Learning Center

Now that we learned the basics of predator control, here are some specifics about each nuisance pest.

Geese
Geese have several natural enemies including swans, alligators and coyotes. Using one, a pair or all three of these decoy methods will help to ensure your pond (and the surrounding area) stays geese free all season long.

  • Swans and geese make similar nesting areas (like your pond). Swans are very territorial and aggressive towards geese. Geese will see the swan decoy and fly over to find a less inhabited water body.
  • Using alligator decoys is also an effective method for geese control. An alligator decoy is effective in areas where alligators do not live; the fear of alligators is instinctive, not learned.
  • Geese do not like coyotes. The Coyote Decoy’s 3D build makes it visible from all angles making it superior to silhouette cut outs, not to mention its tail and body will move with the least amount of wind. This movement can be spotted by pesky birds from a great distance away. Nesting birds and other rodents will not want to seek refuge anywhere near your property if they spot this lurking predator in the open!

Blue Heron
Blue Herons compete against their own breed for pond real estate. A blue heron decoy will deter a real heron from landing due to their territorial nature. Just be aware that late April to May (sometimes early June) is mating season. If used too early, your blue heron decoy may attract a heron searching for a mate.

Muskrats
Muskrats can be cute at first as they frolic and play in your water, but beware you likely have a bigger problem than you think. Muskrats wreak havoc on your shoreline by digging tunnels around your pond to the den causing unstable ground. Here are tips to remove them from your pond:

  • Disrupt their diet. Muskrats are mostly vegetarians, eating aquatic vegetation such as cattails, grasses and pond weeds. Although, you may see them munching on snails, crayfish small fish and frogs in some areas. Removing vegetation in and around your pond is a sure way to limit a muskrat’s access to food.
  • Disrupt their environment. Muskrats prefer shallow ponds with still or slow-moving water. Adding an aeration system or fountain will provide circulation and, in most cases, enough wave movement to deter muskrats. You’ll get a cleaner pond out of it too!
  • Remove them from the pond. Muskrats can caught using a live trap baited with apples or other fruits and vegetables. Make sure you do not fully submerge the trap in case other wildlife accidentally becomes trapped. Monitor your traps several times per day. Check with your local DNR to determine rules involving relocating these pests.

Once you’ve trapped and released your muskrats, make sure you cave in their tunnels and den. You may need to backfill these spots with additional dirt or gravel.

Leeches
Leeches can be quite the nuisance pest in a swimming pond, but, thankfully, they do not do much harm. Leeches can be found in most ponds but a healthy fish population can keep their population in check. Redear Sunfish do a great job eating leeches out of their mucky habitat.

If you do not have fish, there are some prevention and removal techniques we can share with you.

  1. Control the muck. Mucky areas are a breeding ground for leeches. Rake out as much muck as possible and use MuckAway to reduce muck by up to 5” per year.
  2. Remove weeds and debris. You have the muck under control but what about weed growth? Another hot spot for leeches is among weeds and debris. Raking out weeds and any decaying dead weeds from shallow waters will also keep your leech population in check.
  3. Add fish. Redear Sunfish and Largemouth Bass will help to reduce the overall leech population.
  4. Set a leech trap. Punch leech-size holes in a coffee or aluminum can, bait it with raw chicken or fish and position it in a shallow area of your pond. When the worms go for the grub, they can get in – but not out. The burrs from the whole punch will prevent them from escaping. Remove the can once it’s full and repeat until the leeches are gone.
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