Kelowna goose cull called off

By Blaine Gaffney, Canwest News Service May 7, 2009

Goose season in the Okanagan has been put on pause.

In an effort to control the population of problem geese, the City of Kelowna has obtained a permit from the Canadian Wildlife Service to shoot 50 birds this year.

However, Sinikka Crosland of the Responsible Animal Care Society has a legal opinion from a Toronto law firm that the permit may have been wrongly issued.

"It basically says shooting geese is against the (Migratory Birds Convention Act) unless it's done to prevent damage that the geese are causing,” she said. “

It's not due to water quality issues or any issues of that sort, beach quality. It has to be property damage."

The city has consistently cited health concerns, not properly damage, as the prime reason for the cull.

Four beaches have terrible pollution from goose excrement that is affecting the recreational water quality.

In response to Crosland’s complaint, the killing of problem geese along the lakefront in Kelowna has stopped.

After reading the legal opinion, Ian Wilson of the city’s parks department checked with the Canadian Wildlife Service.

"They felt that what we're doing is appropriate," he said. “(But) we did agree mutually that we'd hold off on shooting any more geese because they've been asked to look at it.”

Before resorting to killing the geese, the city tried scaring the birds and shaking eggs to control the population.

Wilson said scaring the geese away from beaches isn't very effective. “Over time they learn. The person shows up, shoots blanks or does stuff, there's no real threat, he leaves and they come back,” said Wilson.

So far this year, the city contractor has shot about 30 Canada geese in Kelowna.

Don't kill Canada geese in Kelowna, group urges 

May 6, 2009

A humane society in Kelowna, B.C., is up in arms about the city's decision to shoot and kill Canada geese blamed for damaging city parks.

Kelowna city hall said the geese have congregated en masse in city parks and are causing damage to park walkways, turf and people's overall enjoyment of the facilities.

City officials have obtained a licence from the Canadian Wildlife Service, part of Environment Canada, to kill up to 50 geese when "they are causing or likely to cause damage to property or pose a health risk," said Ian Wilson, the city's manager of parks services.

The city uses a variety of methods to deter the geese, but the flocks are no longer scared off by firing blanks, Wilson said. Two geese have been shot dead so far.

"Fifty geese is not very many, and we're just using it as one tool — one piece of an overall management plan," he said Wednesday.

Sinikka Crosland, president of the Responsible Animal Care Society, said there are better ways to chase off the animals than killing them.

"The lives of two geese mean something to a lot of people. Why take any lives at all when there are other modalities available?" she said.

Kelowna faced public outcry last fall when city council hired contractors to cull 2,000 feral rabbits using air rifles.

Some residents complained about seeing the rabbits being stomped on and treated in a cruel way when workers carried out their jobs.

That prompted council to suspend the use of air rifles to cull the rabbits. Workers were then asked to lay traps to catch the animals alive, and to give them to rescue groups for adoption.

Shooting geese is different from culling rabbits, Wilson said.

The city is attempting to get rid of all feral rabbits but is just trying to manage the geese, he said.

"The rabbits are an invasive species and… we really were trying to remove all of them because of the impact on the community," Wilson said.


Letters to the Editor - CBC contact web page -

Mayor Sharon Shepherd:
Councillor Luke Stack:
Councillor Robert Hobson:
Councillor Andre Blanleil:
Councillor Charlie Hodge:
Councillor Graeme James:
Councillor Angela Reid:
Councillor Michele Rule:
Councillor Brian Given: 



Kelowna B.C. wins culling permit as it endures growing goose population

KELOWNA, B.C. (CP) — Geese are not good guests and Kelowna B.C. should know.

The parks division in the Okanagan city has been granted a Canadian Wildlife Service permit to cull up to 50 Canada geese, if necessary, by the end of the year.

But officials say the focus will remain on other measures including egg addling, habitat modification and scare techniques.

Two recent aerial studies put the number of resident Canada geese in the Okanagan Valley at between 1,500 and 3,100.

Population projections indicate that could swell to 15,000 by 2030 despite control measures.


Mar 11 2007

To the editor:

I am concerned about the proposed hunting of wild Canada geese in your city parks, simply to try and control the population (Geese Presenting a Health Hazard, March 4 Capital News).

Have you looked into the non-lethal methods that the humane societies and Geese Peace promote? They will be happy to educate the key officials making these decisions.

I totally understand that large populations are a detriment to the city, but I feel that there are other safer methods that are equally, if not more, effective.

Border collies are extremely effective, and run the geese off without injuring them. Birth control in the feed that is placed out for the geese also has proved effective in preventing baby goslings and an increase in the population that is already there. Chasing off the non-breeding adults would also reduce the population to a more manageable size.

Hunting within city limits simply is not a safe method for both the citizens of your city, and cannot insure a painless reduction in goose numbers. The negative publicity a hunt will generate will have a serious drawback for your city and tourism there. The emotional impact on children witnessing the deaths of the geese, and the mourning that the surviving geese will do, is extremely psychologically damaging.

I hope you reconsider, and explore the more humane methods available that have proven sucessful in other areas.

Toni O'Neil, director, Possumwood Acres Wildlife Sanctuary Hubert, NC ___________________________________________
Mar 11 2007

To the editor:

I would like to respond to Judie Steeves' article in the Capital News on Sunday, March 4: Geese Presenting a Health Hazard.

Do I sense some "overkill" in this piece of writing? As with many of Steeves' previous articles over time, this one appears to be another misguided attempt at justifying the act of hunting. Whether the issue is bears, geese, or deer eating her garden delectables, Steeves will not miss an opportunity to brandish her literary shotgun and threaten target practise on these animals. Her allies in Conservation are supportive of her views because, as many of us have come to realize, the word "conservation" has nothing to do with sparing nonhuman lives. Instead, conserving habitat and species guarantees a healthy supply of animals to kill. This is evident in Steeves' article, where references to hunting occur no less than 10 times, and are interlaced with other invasive "killing" terminology.

The only sensible statement in the entire piece is one made by Ron Mattiussi: "we should be looking at modifying our expectation of parks as areas of green grass, because that attracts geese and is not natural in this dry climate."

It had always been my understanding that Kelowna is an environmentally-friendly and humane city, with an abiding interest in upholding the highest standards in this regard, so I welcome Mattiussi's insight. Research and case studies indicate that habitat modification, when used in conjunction with other non-lethal methods of goose control, is an effective tool that can be used to reduce populations of geese in urban areas.

I am concerned that the City of Kelowna's short term solution, i.e. pursuing a lethal approach in addition to noisemakers and other goose control methods, is not only inefficient, but shows a troubling disregard for the humane treatment of animals and even public safety.

I also believe that one does not teach compassion and tolerance in a community by promoting violence, in this case the gunning and subsequent suffering of wild birds.

I would like to add that both Animal Alliance of Canada/Environment Voters and TRACS have offered to bring in a team of goose management experts (at our own expense), and that these people have a proven track record of successfully and humanely addressing Canada goose issues in other North American communities. Our repeated offers have been turned down by the city.

It further concerns me that $15,000 to $20,000 per year is being mobilized by the City's Environment and Waste Water Management Department to determine the source of excrement in shallow beach water. Would these funds not be better spent on modifying the waterfront so that geese would find suitable habitat elsewhere?

I also understand that manual removal of feces and garbage from beach areas is proceeding well with the use of a machine for that purpose. Why not expand this successful area of beach maintenance?

As a nurse, I share the concern that beaches, parks, and other public use areas need to be as safe as possible. This includes reducing the amount of human litter to be found in such areas-discarded needles and syringes, broken glass, beer/pop cans, condoms and cigarette butts.

Finally, records indicate that Kelowna's parks manager has presented an application to the city for beach, median and park maintenance funding, which amounts to $4,825,523 plus GST over three years (possibly to be awarded on a contract basis to two separate companies).* One would hope that at least a part of this rather large sum of money might be spent on addressing the root of the goose issue, i.e. modifying the habitat in order to create an environment less amenable to both resident and migratory geese.

The Kelowna area, with its vast shoreline and beautiful parks, is strategically a perfect candidate for such a plan, and indeed could enjoy the same success as Mississauga, High Park, Greater Chicago and numerous other communities that have actively participated in habitat modification initiatives.

Sinikka Crosland, Westbank


Canada geese targeted in Okanagan

Tue Sep 12, 2:50 PM

The City of Kelowna wants to more than triple the number of Canada geese it's allowed to kill every year, as part of its efforts to deal with droppings on the beach.

This year, 60 birds were shot. The city has applied for a permit from the Canada Wildlife Service to shoot 200 next year.

Officials estimate there are as many as 5,000 Canada geese on Okanagan Lake, and complain the birds pollute the beaches and parks with feces.

The city has tried scaring them away with everything from noisemakers to laser beams. There are still tourists sunbathing on the beach in Kelowna City Park.

Dennis Ingram, the city's goose-control manager, says it's only possible because he uses his dog and a hawk to scare away hundreds of geese every morning.

"When people want to come and sit on the beaches, they want to sit on the clean sand, not roll around in a litter box."

Ingram says scaring them away only moves the problem south to other Okanagan communities.

He notes that city workers have also been shaking goose eggs to prevent more birds from hatching.

The Interior Health Authority has thrown its support behind the plan to kill more birds. It says droppings from waterfowl can contribute to fecal coliform and E. coli in the water.


Target practise plan unacceptable to animal care group TRACS (Kelowna Capital News)

By Shelley Nicholl Staff Reporter Sep 13 2006

The idea of shooting hundreds of geese in the early morning hours on the beaches is unacceptable to Sinikka Crosland.

The president of TRACS (The Responsible Animal Care Society) said that method to combat the growing geese population is inhumane and unnecessary. "We don't have to be using violence against animals in this day and age," she said. "There are other ways that are more sensible and more tolerant that we can come up with."

At city council Monday, councillors were presented with a report on the Okanagan regional goose management strategy that suggested as a last resort, geese will have to be killed to help keep the numbers down.

Parks manager Joe Creron said this year about 60 geese have been destroyed. Last year it was about 25 and next year the city is looking for a permit to kill up to 200.

"We may not kill that many," said Creron. "It's just one of our tools in our toolbox."

Other tools include enforcing bylaws to stop people from feeding geese, because it lures the geese to the public places. Birds of prey, such as falcons, have been used to kill the younger geese. Another method is to scare the geese away with horns and lasers, and possibly dogs.

Creron said it might be that certain beaches where people are not swimming, could be turned into dog parks, which would help keep the geese away. Another approach, seen as the best long-term plan, is egg addling. That means literally shaking the goose eggs to destroy the unhatched bird. It's more effective than taking the eggs away because the geese will just lay again to replace the missing eggs.

Crosland said there are better ways. Part of the problem is that our beaches are very inviting to geese because the grass is so short.

"They're like five-star hotels," she said. "They're alluring places for geese to go to."

She suggested that letting the grass grow longer, say six to eight inches, would deter the geese. Geese are family-oriented, she said, and as such look for safe places to raise their kin. If there were safe places, other than the beaches, for geese to go, they would go there. Planting shrubs would block the birds' views, thereby creating an unsafe image for them and keep them away.

Creron didn't rule out adopting some of the habitat modifications, which could be used in some areas where it makes sense. The concern is in the short-term the goose feces on the beaches and in the swimming areas could pose a water-quality hazard. Coun. Robert Hobson noted that it's become more of an issue in the last few years because the goose population has swelled beyond a natural, environmental balance.

"People have to realize that this is not the historical population of geese," he said.

Creron also pointed out that geese can live 10 to 15 years, so the long-term must be addressed along with the short-term.

"We've been chasing the same geese for 10 years," he said. "And, they're getting smarter."

The $150,000 cost for the goose management program would be shared between the various Okanagan com-munities affect-ed. Kelowna's share would be about $75,000. The city already spends about $100,000 annually on goose control.



Please click on the banner to visit LOVE CANADA GEESE!