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‘It’s unbearable’: Capital Regional District looks to take on Canada geese population

Click to play video: 'Capital Regional District may battle Canada geese' Capital Regional District may battle Canada geese
Canada geese have been running a foul in Greater Victoria and the Capital Regional District is so fed up with the destruction that it's planning to battle the national bird on its own. Brad MacLeod explains – Jul 28, 2020

The Capital Regional District is so fed up with Canada geese that it may try to battle the national bird on its own.

The district, which covers the southern tip of Vancouver Island and the Southern Gulf Islands, voted unanimously on July 22 to develop a potential plan to control the geese population, which is destroying beaches, fields and crops.

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes says he asked the province for help dealing with the waterfowl as did the CRD.  When the province said they will not be addressing the issue, the regional district decided to take it on.

Click to play video: '‘Poop Zamboni’ clearing goose guano from Vancouver Island soccer fields' ‘Poop Zamboni’ clearing goose guano from Vancouver Island soccer fields
‘Poop Zamboni’ clearing goose guano from Vancouver Island soccer fields – Mar 10, 2020

Rob Galey of Galey Farms said geese have been biting into his profits, and the population is exploding.

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“It’s unbearable. We have years (where) we lose tens of thousands of dollars,” he said.

“They’ve taken out over an acre of corn, but they can do that within an hour.”

There’s also a mental health cost to waking up in the middle of the night to scare away the feasting flocks, said Galey, whose family farm covers 15 properties across Saanich, outside Victoria.

Click to play video: 'Family of geese with more than 20 goslings take over Stanley Park road' Family of geese with more than 20 goslings take over Stanley Park road
Family of geese with more than 20 goslings take over Stanley Park road – May 12, 2020

“They are so noisy and I can see all the bedroom lights starting to flick on,” Galey said. “I feel bad for my neighbours. At the same time, they cannot be in here overnight in my fields.”

A CRD plan could include the expansion of an existing addling program, where staff shake goose eggs to terminate embryo development.

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Geese can live up to around 25 years old, so the effects of addling wouldn’t be immediate.

“Maybe my great-grandchildren (or) great-great-grandchildren might start to see a bit of a difference,” he said.

Read more: The rise of Canada geese: How the birds bounced back from near extinction  

Goslings were introduced to the area for hunting in the 1970s and 80s, but they don’t migrate.

One CRD board member in Sooke received international attention earlier this year for what he called his poop Zamboni, which is used to clean fields covered in goose guano.

Read more: Vernon considering goose control options including a cull

Staff suggestions are expected to be submitted by mid-August or early September.

Haynes said he would support a cull if the report calls for it.

“Anything’s on the table — It needs to be,” he said. “I hope the residents of Saanich in the region are with us on this. We know it’s upsetting, but we have to take action.”

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