The Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC) has opposed Canada goose culls in Parksville, Vernon and other parts of the country because a body of evidence shows that non-lethal alternatives work better. Culls are inhumane and ineffective at addressing concerns about Canada geese.
AAC campaigner Jordan Reichert explains that this is because culls tend to have a reverse effect on populations, causing them to increase, as more resources are available to survivors, natural mortality decreases and other birds move into the region. Too often culling targets breeding birds, not the visiting “moult migrants” who contribute to most of the concerns, while failing to address the causes for those concerns.
We are now working in the Capital Regional District, on Vancouver Island.
The Capital Regional District (CRD), made up of 13 member municipalities from southern Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. The CRS is proposing a Canada Goose Management Strategy, which will include a cull, despite not having done their due diligence on non-lethal methods of habitat modification. Animal Alliance of Canada is advising against a cull as they will not resolve conflict, population issues, and are inhumane.
A 2022 Canada Goose Mitigation Draft Action Plan was prepared by Guardian of the Mid-Island Estuary Society for the CRD. In the Action Plan they state, “The CRD developed a Canada Goose Management Strategy in 2012 but has not actively worked to implement key mitigation activities in recent years.” Clearly, they have not done their due diligence at this point to justify a cull.
“The CRD has provided very little background information that would allow the public to understand this issue better and neglected their due diligence of fully exploring habitat modification as an evidence-based alternative to short-sighted culling.”
Habitat Modification and other non-lethal approaches.
Canada geese are “grazers” who eat the tops off growing grass but require access to open water. AAC’s 60 page manual was sent to the CRD. The manual shows how, based on actual successes, relatively simple modifications of habitat, such as planting shrubs and tall grasses to block sightlines between lawns and water, along with egg-addling, enforced feeding bans, overhead lines on farms, and other non-lethal control methods, can produce long-lasting results without resorting to perpetual killing.
Barry Kent MacKay, Animal Alliance Director and bird expert, says “There are many examples of municipalities and regions in Canada that had similar problems and resolved them with creative, non-lethal habitat modification techniques. Creating a solution for the CRD is certainly feasible, if the board is willing.”
There is also the ethical concern of the killing of geese in the cull. In 2016, Parksville killed 484 moulting geese. The geese were rounded up into tennis courts and shot with bolt guns. This was done in spite of bolt guns not being an approved method of killing geese by the Canadian Wildlife Service.
The CRD has only said that the meat will not be wasted in reference to the cull. This, however, has nothing to do with addressing concerns of inhumane treatment and animal suffering.
“Geese mate for life and may mourn the loss of their partner,” explained Reichert. “Killing large numbers of geese is not just a matter of bureaucratic management. These individuals have families and their physical and psychological suffering must be taken seriously.”