Capital region’s goose cull a first — but probably not the last

This month’s planned cull of 250 resident Canada geese represents a first for Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland, Capital Regional District directors have been told.

But if some of them have their way, it won’t be the last.

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Some are so keen to clear Canada geese from parks and playing fields, they are willing to use gas tax grants to pay for culls

“They’ve changed the gas tax rules where you can use gas tax for recreational facilities,” said Mike Hicks, the director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area.

Sooke Coun. Rick Kasper suggested that, if the CRD is looking to expand the cull program in the future, it might contact the the Sooke Community Association, which owns the playing fields at Fred Milne Park. “All we’ve heard for decades is complaints about the geese population throughout the year. You’ve got young people out there in the soccer pitch and adults playing slo-pitch, so there’s a lot of conflict there.”

Sidney Mayor Steve Price said Sidney has been working with the Victoria Airport Authority for years trying to do something about geese.

“We’re worried about them bringing down a jet into our town just on the safety end of it. But we’re also to the point where we’re losing the use of some of our public parks because of the amount of goose droppings,” he said.

The CRD’s pilot cull of about 250 geese on private agricultural land is set to take place this month.

Molting adult Canada geese will be rounded up and then killed by “cervical [spine] adjustment” (having their necks snapped), said parks manager Michael Walton.

Undertaking the cull required a rigorous process to obtain the necessary permits, he said.

Kim St. Claire, acting manager of visitor services, said the cull is a first for the province and the Canadian Wildlife Service, B.C. branch.

“It’s been a complicated process with lots of review by the provincial veterinarian and biologist with the province as well as the Canadian Wildlife Service’s biologists over the past two years or so,” she said. “It’s a unique situation and we’re looking forward to see what the results are. But the idea is we try it to see how it works.”

Larisa Hutcheson, general manager Parks and Environmental Services, acknowledged that there are issues with geese in CRD parks and on playing fields, but said the cull is just focusing on agricultural land. Lessons learned from the cull will be incorporated into any further action, she said.

“If the CRD board would like to continue our involvement in this … we can either do it as a service that municipalities can participate in or we can pursue other opportunities. This is just a first step.”

The cull is phase three of a regional Canada goose management strategy, co-ordinated by the CRD with co-operation of a number of municipalities, the Victoria Airport Authority and farmers.

The first two years were spent collecting data on geese populations, health, growth and impacts. That was followed by a public awareness campaign and training programs in egg addling. Staff say the aim of the cull is to remove up to 250 non-migratory geese, develop the most efficient and humane approach to population-reduction, understand public response to the cull and reduce impacts from the geese.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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