Stew Pearce, a VIU alumnus, is monitoring Canada geese to determine population levels and migration habits to help the City of Nanaimo identify management strategies. — Vancouver Island University photo

Feasting geese concern farmers

For farmers on the Saanich Peninsula, cereal crops like corn are starting to grow. It is a feast for non-migratory Canada geese, but for farmers, it is a headache.

“Because they have a lot of food, in the form of farms, they do really well,” said Ryan Windsor, mayor of Central Saanich.

“They land and nibble on the corn and causes quite a lot of crop damage through late spring and early summer.”

The geese were introduced in the 1960s and 70s by the Canadian Wildlife Service, the provincial Fish and Wildlife Branch, and conservation organizations. A 2012 CRD report states it was a “well-intended program” to establish breeding populations here for wildlife viewing and sport hunting since Canada geese were rare at the time. A 2012 study predicted that by 2018, there would be approximately 10,000 geese in a Goose Management Area (a crescent moon of municipalities with North Saanich on top and Sooke on the bottom).

In an interview, Kevin Fort of the Canadian Wildlife Service said it was common practice at the time, but when the human population grew and settled more land, hunters could no longer fire their guns in these areas. With ideal breeding conditions and few natural predators in the area, the population increased exponentially and began to conflict with human activities. They damage agricultural crops and could strike airplanes, and increase fecal coliform levels in public swimming areas. In addition, they damage local estuaries.

Canada geese in western North America are naturally migratory, but the goslings were brought from other parts of Canada and did not learn to migrate from mature geese, so these geese stayed put. In addition, the introduced geese have become genetic hybrids over the decades, making them a new non-native species.

Unlike deer and other mammals, which are under the provincial Wildlife Act, Canada geese and other waterfowl are also protected by the federal Migratory Birds Convention Act, so the federal government has a say as well.

Fort said the CWS does not mandate population targets, instead leaving that to local working groups that include parties affected by the geese. There are, however, guidelines for how best to decrease the population. Farmers are allowed to hunt geese on their own land during the hunting season, and Fort said CWS continues to encourage this. In the north and mid-island areas, “there is very well-document evidence of damage towards estuary habitats as a result of heavy Canada geese pressure,” said Fort, so CWS has authorized management measures, including hunting. Other measures include egg addling (shaking the eggs to make them unviable or coating them with vegetable oil, eliminating air exchange).

Windsor said he does not plan to introduce anything new at Council because the issue has been considered in years past and they have a strategy.

“I just want to keep it top of mind,” said Windsor.



reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

WATCH: Clean-up complete at abandoned Vancouver Island ski hill

Volunteers rid Forbidden Plateau of debris left over from defunct alpine operation

Fence, patrols clean up Duncan neighbourhood, long term solutions scarce

Number of homeless people camping in Lewis Street area has dropped significantly after recent sweep

Closure adds to Parksville Qualicum Beach doctor crisis

One of Canada’s oldest populations having trouble attracting medical expertise

COLUMN: People with disabilities deserve inclusive communities

But to get there, we all need to be part of the change, writes Surrey MLA

Vancouver Island drug company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

$578: that’s how much your first distracted driving ticket will cost with recent premium hikes

Over 50 per cent of Canadians admitted to using phone while driving last year, according to study

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

New survey finds 4.7 million women over 15 were victims of sexual assault in Canada

Some 1.2 million men (eight per cent) report having been sexually assaulted since age 15

CCPA actors fall down a Shakespearian rabbit hole

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet) makes for chaotic theatre fun

TESS VAN STRAATEN: Find Christmas cheer in the heart of Victoria

From the iconic Fairmont Empress to decorated Old Town, seasonal activities abound in the harbour

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Concern grows as deadline looms for major downtown Nanaimo hotel development

PEG Developments say they’re pushing to break ground before Dec. 31 deadline

New school for Hornby Island; $27 million in upgrades to Comox Valley Middle School

Upgrades to Lake Trail include a $1.5-million child care centre

Most Read