VICTORIA, April 21, 2022 — Vernon city council’s continued efforts to use “kill to scare” tactics targeting “dominant geese” in a flock is once again being challenged by the Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC) as unscientific and doomed to fail.
AAC’s Director and bird expert, Barry Kent MacKay says, “The Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) says that a ‘kill to scare’ approach will not significantly reduce goose numbers. It’s clear this proposal from Vernon lacks a basic understanding of goose behaviour and socialization.”
In 2021, Vernon Council applied to conduct a goose cull but had their application rejected by the CWS. Animal advocacy groups condemned the cull as inhumane and wasteful policy that would not resolve human/goose conflict in the region. Now council is applying for a new permit, but is finding it difficult to find a contractor.
“Council continues to want to target “dominant geese,” but there is no ‘dominant’ goose in a flock for them to target,” says Jordan Reichert of AAC. “They take turns being the leader when they fly to conserve energy, but on the ground, there is no leader to identify in their general socialization patterns. If this is the premise of the City’s kill to scare program, there is no evidence to support it.”
Furthermore, AAC says that the presumed outcome of leaving dead geese on the ground to scare off others is founded on flawed logic. If the killing is done during the birds’ moulting season – when they cannot fly – they will not be overhead to see a dead goose below.
As AAC has written in earlier submissions, Vernon Council has yet to identify which geese are being targeted: the moult migrants who remain in the area only during the moulting period or those who are successful breeders and moult after their young are able to fly. “What is the point in killing geese who can’t fly and only reside in the area for such a short period of time?” asks Reichert.
Geese mate for life, so killing one goose of a pair may cause the other to remain nearby after the loss for an extended period. Leaving dead geese on the ground may also be an attractant to scavengers which may cause further conflict between people using the beaches and parks and other wildlife.
“Vernon council has an opportunity to implement evidence-based, long-term, non-lethal co-habitation policy that will reduce conflict with recreational users of parks and beaches,” said Reichert. “Short-term killing projects teach disrespect for wildlife and a lack of creative problem-solving. We can do better by working with wildlife rather than against them.”
AAC has submitted a Habitat Modification manual to Vernon’s Mayor and Council but has not received a response from the City. They are asking Vernon Council to commit to giving habitat modification a fair chance to be implemented and fully realized, as non-lethal methods must be attempted prior to applying for a kill permit with the CWS.
MacKay continued, “We’ve helped resolve human/wildlife conflicts non-lethally and effectively in other communities and our offer to assist Vernon City Council still stands.”