In May 2023, the Vancouver Park Board passed a motion to implement a Canada Goose Management Plan that includes a lethal cull of an undecided number of geese. This approach was chosen over an alternative non-lethal option that would have seen increased egg-addling and other non-lethal measures imposed.
The Vancouver Park Board must now request the funding for the project from the City of Vancouver. They have requested $375,000 which will primarily be used for non-lethal methods, but also for a cull.
The Park Board must also request a permit to hold a cull from the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) as Canada Geese are protected under the federal Migratory Bird Act.
The Animal Alliance of Canada is opposed to a goose cull as the Park Board has not implemented a variety of non-lethal methods laid out in its Goose Management Plan and has failed to consistently implement its egg-addling program at a high level for the past two decades.
What the Canadian Wildlife Service says about the permit application:
- Describe the damage or danger situation clearly and in detail. This must include your assessment of the seriousness of the issue.
- Describe and explain in detail all previous prevention measures you have used to attempt to manage the problem, the duration of the use of each measure, and their effectiveness (i.e. indicate whether or not they were successful). Examples of prevention measures include scaring with noisemakers, installing barriers and altering habitat.
- Explain in detail the long-term preventive measures you intend to adopt to address the problem. The issuance of a permit by the Canadian Wildlife Service is the last resort, therefore should only be considered when dealing with birds that are causing damage or pose a danger. Non-lethal, proactive scaring or management techniques that do not require a permit should be the basis of your long-term plan. In certain cases, the extent of the problem warrants the issuance of such permit. Depending on your situation, you may be required to provide a migratory bird management plan to the Canadian Wildlife Service Permit Office.
Problems with the Park Board’s Canada Goose Management Plan:
Population claims are fear-mongering.
The Technical Report prepared for the Parks Board describes the geese in the most negative terms. There is little or no recognition of their importance in the environment or their vulnerability to such unnecessary attacks.
“Today, many populations of Canada geese are largely perceived as problem wildlife, due to their abundance, territorial behaviour during breeding season, crop damage, potential risks to human health and safety, fouling of grassy areas with droppings, fecal coliform contamination of public swimming areas, damage to lawns and green spaces, as well as other economic losses (Smith et al. 2005).”
“Perception” is not necessarily realty. For example, Canada goose source E. coli is of low virulence to humans, and only likely to be an issue, if at all, where there are concentrations at numbers relatively easy, and cost effective, to prevent in public areas. No such swimming area is identified. Droppings in grassy areas are predominately partly digested, biodegradable grass. Territorial geese are easily avoided, and signage can easily keep people away. No crops damaged in area of concern are mentioned, and we doubt that any exist.
Although the Park Board does not have a current estimate of the Canada goose population but claims there are approximately 2300 geese (counted during the Christmas bird count) currently in Vancouver (a city of 650,000 people). They are basing their Management Plant on a projection that there could potentially be 10,000 geese by 2030. This is a highly unlikely scenario if only non-lethal methods are implemented immediately with sufficient resources. Using lethal methods is not only unnecessary, but it could also contribute to rebound effect in the population due to increased resources and decreased competition from surviving individuals. Nowhere in the Park Board’s documentation do they state what number they believe is acceptable to them. Implementing a lethal cull without this basic metric to gauge success of a management plan is completely irresponsible.
The Park Board has failed to implement its own measures fully.
According to the Park Board’s own Technical Report, they have failed to implement consistent egg-addling for the past 26 years, beginning in 1996. In 1996, they addled 309 eggs, and addled over 200 eggs annually until 1999, but from then on there was a consistent downward trend until 2017 when they addled 227 eggs. Between 2000 and 2016, they never addled 200 eggs, often addling under 100. In 2018, they addled 58. In 2021 and 2022, they suddenly started addling over 650 eggs each year. Clearly they were inconsistent in their implementation of egg-addling as a preventative practice and tried to catch up the last few years. However, their own data shows they have not consistently been addling eggs at a high level. There is no explanation offered why this inconsistency exists in the Technical Report.
Habitat modification has not been implemented in areas of concern.
On Page 23 of the Park Board’s Technical Report, a graph indicates the primary habitat that the geese are utilizing. By far the greatest presence of geese correlates with the most ideal areas for them which are Manicured Lawns and Beach with access to water. There is no indication that the Park Board has implemented meaningful habitat modification to deter geese from these areas. Habitat modification can include disrupting sight lines for geese to water by planting grasses or shrubs, using overhead lines to make it difficult for them to land or take off, or even planting different varieties of grass seed less palatable to geese. Suggestions are made in regards to implementing some of these non-lethal tactics, but they currently are not being applied. Without showing a consistent and thorough effort to implement these non-lethal methods, they cannot show that they have met the threshold to apply for a permit to kill.
Killing will not stop other geese from moving in.
On page 25 of the Technical Report, it is acknowledged that there is a poor understanding of the migration of geese in Vancouver and surrounding areas. It is reasonable to believe that if geese are killed in one area, other geese will easily migrate and fill in that area, effectively rendering any area-focused cull useless. Nature abhors a vacuum after all. This is why implementing evidence-based non-lethal methods that decrease the desirability of areas where the geese are not wanted, will be far more effective in the short and long-term, as migrating geese will avoid those areas too.
What you can do
Contact Vancouver City Council and politely voice your opposition to them funding the Park Board’s unscientific and unethical cull of Canada Geese. You can fill out the contact form to council here.
Things to mention:
- Culls don’t work. Populations tend to rebound after a cull and other birds will migrate to replace the killed individuals.
- The Park Board’s own data shows they have not implemented consistent and thorough non-lethal methods.
- The Canadian Wildlife Service will only provide a permit to kill geese if the Park Board can show they have tried everything else and it hasn’t worked. However, the Park Board’s Canada Goose Management Plan includes many measures they have not yet implemented, so council approving funding a cull that cannot be carried out without years of trying these new methods is unjustified.
- Habitat modification, making areas less desirable for geese, works in the short and long-term, and avoids unscientific and unethical culling of geese.
- Enforcing no-feeding bylaws and containing other attractants are essential to mitigating population growth and decreasing geese in unwanted areas.
- There are only 2200 geese in Vancouver and the population can be stabilized through egg-addling. Claims of 10,000 geese by 2030 are fear-mongering and projections of only what could happen to an unlikely extreme, if absolutely nothing is done.
- Ask council to send the request for funding back to the Park Board to provide a non-lethal Goose Management Plan.
Donate to help us hold the Vancouver Park Board accountable and stop the goose cull from taking place.
Thank you for helping us ensure our communities invest in non-lethal cohabitation with wildlife instead of short-sighted, unscientific, and unethical killing.