VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — If you’ve taken a gander around Vancouver, you may have noticed the Canada goose population is out of control.
The Vancouver Park Board reports around 3,500 are spread across the city and there’s a new plan in place to keep those numbers from rising.
The Park Board wants you to report any goose nest you may find. It says some eggs can be sterilized by approved measures like shaking, freezing or pouring oil on them.
#VanParkBoard needs your help to reduce Canada geese numbers, which are negatively impacting park habitats and public enjoyment. Do not feed geese and report nests so they can be removed or eggs addled. More info at https://t.co/c6amT9xRjW pic.twitter.com/uYe73IfIjF
— Vancouver Park Board (@ParkBoard) March 3, 2021
The practice knowing as egg addling has been used since the early 1990’s and is supported by the BC SPCA and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Urban biodiversity planner Jennifer Rae Pierce explains the issues with the birds are partly aesthetic, with a large amount of fecal matter in places where people like to gather, but they also have an ecological impact.
“Around lost lagoon there is not much lawn left in some areas because the geese have eaten so much of the grass, so it’s now a mixture of other types of plants that are left.”
But it’s not just grassy areas near water — Pierce adds geese are getting more creative where they nest.
“I increasingly see geese nesting on rooftops, on balconies, all kinds of places where they have a higher success rate with the chicks. This means that managing a population becomes even more difficult and we end up with this exploding population.”
The City of Vancouver says egg addling has been the main way to control the populations but finding nests is getting harder.
“Geese congregate in parks for feeding and molting, but do not necessarily nest there. There is evidence they nest on the roofs and balconies of private and public buildings and tall, topped trees throughout the city,” the city says on the website.
Susan Lipsett, lives close to Granville Island and has counted around 175 geese, including the goslings, in the summer.
“The geese are benign most of the time, but when they have goslings they are vicious. I know two people who were bitten and of at least three dogs that got giardia from eating goose poop,” she said.
The city is also looking into buying more equipment to effectively remove goose droppings but notes people feeding the flocks makes the problem worse.
“Supplemental feeding by humans can also contribute to geese being able to lay more than one clutch of 8 eggs per season; meaning that if one clutch does not hatch, they can replace it. In nature, without food from humans, this wouldn’t happen,” said Environmental Stewardship Coordinator Dana McDonald.
In addition to the food benefits geese enjoy from living in urban centres and parks, they also don’t have natural predators or face risk of hunting.
A report Pierce did for the city in 2016 predicted the goose population would triple in 10 years.