CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — When you’re driving in Champaign, you may be familiar with a certain roadblock on North Prospect Avenue. Not an orange traffic cone, but geese. 

Researchers at the U of I are studying their behavior and what really happens when humans try to chase them away in parks and ponds. 

Mike Ward, a professor in the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences at U of I, said geese are a lot smarter than we think. 

He said the birds get used to the people around them, that’s how smart they are. They’ve learned that humans aren’t really a threat. 

Ward is part of a team of researchers who started harassing geese near Midway Airport in Chicago. They wanted to learn if chasing them really kept them away or not.

They found that chasing them away doesn’t mean they’ll stay away. 

“When we run at them with clapping, we’re not actually gonna kill them,” Ward said. “It takes them a few days but they realize we’re just a nuisance, we’re not really a big threat. A lot of times we’re in areas with a lot of green grass, that’s what they want, so they come back.” 

They tracked their movement with a GPS device similar to a FitBit. 

“It’s not just getting geese out of your yard, but out of the region,” he said. “You can scare a goose and it will go to your neighbor’s yard or the next park, but if you have good places to feed and a safe spot, they’re going come back, usually within an hour.” 

He added that they know we aren’t to threaten their survival. Now, their next steps are trying to figure out how to move the geese out of the parks and into the countryside where they can also feed. 

Ward said it’s not impossible to keep geese out of your yards. He suggests for short-term solutions, you can either spray your grass with something like pepper spray or keep the grass a little longer. 

If it’s longer, it makes it harder for them to waddle and they would have to use more energy to fly instead.