Massive migration of snow geese hits Metro Vancouver

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WATCH: This year's explosion of the snow geese population might be spectacular, but has generated worries about farms, fields and airports. Ted Chernecki reports – Nov 14, 2016

Bird watchers in Metro Vancouver haven’t seen this many snow geese in years. Environment Canada, which operates a bird sanctuary on Westham Island in Delta, estimates there could be 100,000 of the birds this year between the Lower Mainland and northern Washington State.

“Particularly with changing climate, there are more years where the growing conditions are good, where the young plants that grow that the geese feed (on) are available at the time of the year when they need them,” Barry Smith of Environment Canada said.

The snow geese breed mainly on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean. Breeding conditions have been very good for the last two years meaning their numbers may have increased by as much as 40 per cent.

“We provide crops here on the national wildlife area so that the geese can be maintained over the winter and so we’re doing all we can to provide the food for the geese such that we can maintain a healthy population without them extending into other habitats where people would prefer not to have them,” Smith said.

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All those geese may be good for birdwatchers but wildlife control experts at neighbouring Vancouver International Airport have concerns. They are searching for ways to get the geese to move away from arriving and departing aircraft.

“They become habituated very, very quickly,” Geert Bos, YVR director of airside operations, said. “Hence, we never employ the same techniques over and over because they just will not move along based on that. So we try to change it up on a daily basis to make sure that they don’t get used to anything that’s going on.”

– With files from Ted Chernecki