SASKATOON -- Geese that flew south for the winter are back in the province and preparing to start their families in the coming weeks, something people should look out for.

Jan Shadick with Living Sky Wildlife Rehabilitation says females lay their eggs and sit on their nests while the males keep a close watch to protect their mate.

“Just like humans are incredibly protective of our kids, the geese are also very protective of their partners and kids,” Shadick told CTV News.

Shadick says they’re not so much “angry geese” as they are protective so it’s important to avoid them.

“If you do see a goose family, instead of walking right up to them, walk around them, give them space, admire them from a distance because that’s what they would want from us,” Shadick said.

Jamie Harder, resource management technician with the Meewasin Valley Authority, says that geese are arguably the best parents out there.

She says every year geese get a bad reputation for being aggressive as they share the same space as people often along the South Saskatchewan River.

Geese attacks can happen frequently and it’s important to know what to do if you ever run into a situation.

“The best thing you can do is turn and face your body towards the goose, moving slowly and making eye contact with the goose so you’re not acting like a predator,” Harder said.

Harder says she has already heard of a couple interactions this year of geese setting up their territories and defending their space.

Over the years, geese have become very used to human interaction, according to zoo operations manager Jeff Mitchell.

“They’ve lost a lot of their fear and natural instincts from humans, so that put us at a lot of times, at a disadvantage. The geese will be more aggressive and more active defending against us because they’re so comfortable around us.”

Shadick says Saskatoon has “very cheeky geese” because people feed them bread, particularly stale bread which isn’t good for them.

“They should be eating their grass, not our bread and so it is really important that we not feed the animals.”