Canada goose poo problem in Greater Victoria needs new solutions, experts say
Despite being a native Canadian species and namesake, experts say the Canada goose, with its overwhelming numbers and two pounds of feces daily, poses problems for Greater Victoria and its migratory bird sanctuaries.
Bruce Harrison, provincial conservation officer for Ducks Unlimited Canada, described the Canada goose as a “species that has been moved a bit” in reference to its translocation to British Columbia in the 1970s. They have always lived in the province, but when their original native population began to decline over time, governments stepped in to replenish their local numbers with geese from elsewhere in the country.
In British Columbia, the large number of birds has created a problem. Although technically a native species, Harrison admits they may have become more abundant in the past 40 or 50 years than people would like.
“The central problem is that we have created a very nice area for them in urban areas,” he said, noting that areas like Greater Victoria give them “a nice little candy store” which is even more practical than the natural environment in which they thrive.
“It’s the lawns and the grass that really attract them. Most people seem to be quite mad at them for the way they affect sports fields.
In addition to ruining a pristine football field, the daily pound of droppings that a single adult Canada goose can produce can also contaminate the water and cause algae blooms that rob oxygen and block light from the sun for underwater plants.
Local birder Geoffrey Newell said they can also be aggressive birds and sometimes steal food from ducks and other geese. He noted that this does not apply to Canada geese originating entirely from British Columbia, which migrate to the Arctic in winter.
According to local biologist Jacques Sirois, the Victoria Harbor and Shoal Harbor Migratory Bird Sanctuaries and the surrounding islands, including the Trial Islands Ecological Reserve, are the most affected.
“They are degrading our urban ecology, they are attacking our beaches and our urban parks and they are degrading the habitat of our migratory birds. »
Sirois knows about 40 Canada goose nests on Little Trial Island and another 40-45 on Chain Islets. Ideally, he would like to see the population of around 1,000 birds around the Victoria Harbor Sanctuary halved. While hunting has historically helped moderate goose populations along the Saanich Peninsula, he said, “there are far fewer hunters today than before.”
The non-profit Guardians of Mid-Island Estuaries Society has been leading local efforts to sterilize Canada goose eggs since the late 1990s. Although in Greater Victoria perhaps more eggs are happening than people think – the physical process terminates embryo development – it doesn’t seem to impact local goose populations, Sirois said.
“It’s complicated to take care of geese here in an urban environment.
His estimates put the number of eggs produced by local birds at over 1,000 a year, with between 200 and 300 geese living around the Victoria Golf Club in Oak Bay.
Harrison, unsure of the effectiveness of adding eggs, pointed to some innovative ways to manage Canada goose populations. These include a “Zamboni” droppings brought to the island and a remote-controlled fox named Buster that the City of Kamloops has funded to keep birds away from sports fields.
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birdsBird WatchingCanada GooseEnvironmentGooseWest Shore