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CRD's proposed goose cull receives support from farmers, bird advocates


Ask farmers on Vancouver Island and many will tell you, geese are their biggest problem.

"It’s just devastating," said Terry Michell, owner of Michell’s Farm in Central Saanich, B.C.

A gaggle of geese are pictured in a farmer's field in Central Saanich, B.C. Jan. 10, 2023. (CTV News)

An example of the problem could be seen at a farmer's field near Michell’s Farm on Tuesday, where a gaggle of geese were eating everything in sight.

"Some crops, we’ve lost 100 per cent of some fields, and some we’ve lost 30 per cent," said Michell.

The Canada goose population in the region is estimated to be 10,000 to 15,000 birds, some 3,500 to 7,000 of them overwintering in the area. It’s a population that doubles every four years.

The Capital Regional District (CRD) is now proposing a "Canada Goose Management Strategy."

"That would involve culling of animals as well as egg addling," said Colin Plant, Capital Regional District board chair.

Addling means killing the embryo inside a fertile goose egg.

The management strategy will go ahead provided 10 per cent of eligible voters in the CRD, or approximately 35,000 people, do not voice opposition to the plan by the cutoff date of Jan. 23.


The CRD, as well as some wildlife advocates, say the geese are causing problems for local birds.

"This is a human-created problem and, very reluctantly, I support the steps to reduce this problem," said Ann Nightingale, board member at Rocky Point Bird Observatory in Victoria.

Nightingale, who is a bird advocate, says before the 1970s, on average, 125 geese were counted during the annual Christmas Bird Count. Those birds also would have been migratory.

"So the population has really taken off," said Nightingale. "These birds are very destructive in native habitats, in estuaries where native birds need those habitats."

Tim Clermont, executive director of the Guardians Of Our Salish Sea Estuaries, says the geese can also impact other types of wildlife.

"We’re seeing a 90 per cent loss of Carex lyngbyei sedge, which is an important marsh plant that helps productivity of estuaries," said Clermont,

A goose is pictured in a Vancouver Island estuary eating Carex lyngbyei sedge, a plant that is essential for juvenile salmon and marsh health. (CTV News)That plant is critical habitat for juvenile salmon and without it marshes can’t function, he says.

"If you don’t have intact marshes you lose your shorelines, you lose your habitat for salmon," said Clermont.

The meat harvested from the Goose Management Strategy will be turned over to the CRD’s First Nation partners for consumption.

The CRD says it’s unclear what the expected reduction in the goose population will be, when and if the plan goes into effect. Top Stories

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