Nanaimo seeks regional strategy for geese

NANAIMO – Canada geese introduced to Vancouver Island in 1960s and '70s.

Nanaimo city officials want to build a new regional team to help control Vancouver Island’s Canada geese population.

The City of Nanaimo is about to call on governments and wildlife experts to join forces on a regional strategy to manage a persistent Canada geese problem. The move will see the new group look beyond municipal boundaries at the bird’s population numbers and the tools they can employ to control the geese, including relocation and a potential limited cull.

A regional strategy makes sense with the resident birds moving between east Vancouver Island communities, according to Kevin Brydges, the city’s environmental bylaw enforcement officer. If Nanaimo, for example, took an approach to deal with the birds here, is it a futile effort considering it may get more birds from the north and south Island?

“Instead of five of us working apart, we’re trying to get together and work together,” he said.

Canada geese aren’t a native resident bird to the Island. Young were transplanted in the 1960s and ’70s as part of an introduction program to Vancouver Island to boost wildlife viewing and sport hunting opportunities, a city report shows. They didn’t learn to seasonally migrate, with little opportunity to learn behaviour from mature geese and like other urbanized animals like deer and rabbits, lack the stressors of predators and being out in the wild.  They’re becoming a public concern, with feces scattered on lake beaches, parks and damage done to agricultural lands and estuaries.

The city has tried to manage populations with an egg-addling program and temporary measures like scaring geese with noisemakers and dogs, and relocation. Twenty-three geese were relocated to Cottle Lake, from Westwood, this year.

Efforts have seen some successes. City staff members say there’s not the population boom there would be thanks to the egg-addling program, and at Westwood Lake, nests have dwindled from 18 two decades ago to one.  But Al Britton, Nanaimo’s manager of parks operations, says the city can’t seem to get below that nest number either and he likes the idea of a regional strategy.

“We’re all in the same boat together,” he said.

The city will be consulting with local governments and stakeholders like the Canadian Wildlife Service and Guardians of Mid-Island Estuaries in an effort to create a new committee.

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