Problems caused by Canada geese have gotten worse in recent years for local farmers. (Black Press Media file photo)

Canada geese a scourge on Greater Victoria farmers

Immediate and long-term solutions needed, says Saanich farmer

As far as farmers are concerned, the Canada geese introduced to the region in the ’50s and ’60s have long overstayed their welcome.

Saanich farmer Rob Galey noted that while the geese have been an ongoing issue for 30 years, the problem has exacerbated significantly since the geese began foraging at night three years or so ago. Going out in the middle of the night to chase them away is not a popular option with people nearby because of the noise they make, he explained.

“In spring they can take out an acre of early crops in an hour,” Galey said. “It’s a huge financial hardship, extra workload and lots of mental stress. The mental stress is what really starts to get us.”

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It’s a constant battle that involves covering seedlings in the spring, installing fences, and running stringer lines to keep the geese from landing. “In the fall when they start to put on their winter fat, they wreak havoc with potatoes and carrots.”

Saanich Coun. Colin Plant, who chairs the Capital Regional Board, agrees geese have become a scourge on local farmers.

“The farmers have asked for help every year since I was elected five-and-a-half years ago,” Plant said.

“The geese have a significant impact on our parks and waters as well,” he said, adding that closures of Beaver and Elk lakes are often caused by geese droppings in the water. Efforts to get the federal and provincial governments to take on the problem as part of wildlife management responsibilities have not received a positive response, Plant noted, so he’s asking CRD staff to prepare a report on a regional solution. The CRD Parks Committee unanimously approved a motion that would have staff work with farmers on a report.

“What would it look like, what would it cost,” Plant explained. “It would likely be through an egg-addling program. We need to do this across the entire region because geese don’t respect municipal borders.”

Galey said it’s good to see the Capital Regional District looking into the situation. “I’m glad someone is finally dealing with it. Someone has to take responsibility.”

He doesn’t believe egg-addling, which involves shaking eggs in their nests to stop the embryo from developing, will yield noticeable results. “But something has to be done immediately,” Galey stressed.

Colwood Mayor Rob Martin said even though Colwood doesn’t have a lot of farmland, he has heard more complaints about the geese since they have started to remain in the city all year. “I strongly support the CRD taking a regional approach to a solution,” Martin said.

The CRD board will decide on approving whether to go ahead on preparing a report at the Aug. 12 meeting.

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rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com

Farming

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