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Goose Management

GOOSE MANAGEMENT

GET INVOLVED - Goose Management Website

Members of the public are invited to help manage the population of resident Canada Geese in the Okanagan Valley.

PLEASE DON’T FEED THE GEESE!

The most effective way for the public to help control the goose population is to refrain from feeding geese or other waterfowl. Check out five reasons below why you should not feed geese:

  • Feeding geese contributes to overpopulation. Urban parks and recreational areas are becoming overrun with geese and waterfowl.
  • Feeding geese impacts environmental health. Large populations of waterfowl contribute to over-grazing, trampled vegetation, and soil erosion High fecal coliform counts can deplete oxygen levels in wetlands, which can cause fish kills and be harmful to other aquatic organisms
  • Feeding geese causes them to become “Tame”. Waterfowl lose their natural fear of humans, which is crucial for survival and maintenance of instinctual behaviours. Geese approaching humans for food can become extremely aggressive Animals that retain wild characteristics have higher rates of survival in urban settings as they do not depend on hand-outs for food and shelter
  • Feeding geese increases risks to human health. Large concentrations of waterfowl can lead to increased fecal matter in the water and on the landscape. Increased fecal matter leads to higher fecal coliform counts, E. coli, and other pathogens such as Salmonella This can lead to swimming advisories at recreational beaches. Excess feed may attract rats and other pests
  • Feeding geese can be harmful to them. Feeding waterfowl can cause dietary and digestive problems for the birds. Most handouts such as stale bread, crackers and pastries have little nutritional value and can contribute to startvation. A natural diet is much better for geese and allows them to forage on their own–their wild integrity remains intact.

HELP LOCATE GOOSE NESTS

Between mid-March and mid-May, wildlife technicians and biologists are surveying the Okanagan Valley for goose nests. Nests that are found with eggs up to 14 days incubation are addled, that is, made non-viable so that more geese don’t enter into the resident Okanagan Valley Canada Goose population. Addled eggs are returned to the nest. Returning the eggs to the nest ensures that the adults are unaware that their eggs are not viable and the pair won’t try and re-nest elsewhere. The adults will eventually abandon their nest, but it will likley be too late in the season for them to initiate a new one.

We try our best to locate nests, but if you know the location of a nest, please tell us. Many nests of urban geese are on private property such as boat sheds, garden planters, and balconies. Geese will often use the same nest site (or be very close by) year after year so keep your eye on old nests. During the addling field program we can be reached at 1-877-943-3209. Our email is coordinator@okanagangooseplan.com

GOOSE EGG ADDLING

The 2012 Canada Goose egg addling field season is well underway. Trained field crews have been out since the end of March searching for nests to humanely control the resident non-migratory goose population growth by addling eggs (i.e. rendering them nonviable). And what a year we are seeing! Some geese seem to have nested early and others seem to still be waiting for perfect conditions. Although we have found over 200 nests, the geese have posed quite a challenge to the crews in this, our sixth year of the OVGMP to control resident goose populations.

Addling is used as a technique to sterilize eggs. Adults are not harmed and will continue with their regular life cycle after the nesting season. And remember, geese can live greater than 20 years in our urban environments so it is important to addle eggs each year to stabilize, and eventually decrease the population.

The public is reminded that egg addling is allowed to be conducted only by trained personnel authorized under Federal permits.

AERIAL SURVEYS

In addition to ground surveys, aerial surveys were conducted in 2007 to estimate the number of geese residing in the Okanagan Valley and to determine what proportion of the population which were hatched that year. We hope to conduct another sweep of aerial surveys following the 2010 nesting season.

Aerial surveys of nesting areas can cover much more area and give biologists a bigger and more complete picture of the overall ecosystem and regions in which the geese live.

POPULATION SURVEYS

Post-nesting ground surveys are conducted during June and early July to identify areas that may have been missed during the addling season. In addition, the population data is used to estimate what percentage of the population is comprised of goslings. In 2007 approximatey 14% of the population were goslings. In 2008 and 2009 the levels were approximately 18% and 8% respectively. These numbers are well below levels normally seen in an urban goose population (up to 50% or more!). These data allows population projections of the Okanagan Valley Canada Goose Population. This enables the assessment of how effective management measures have been and helps with planning for the next breeding season. It also enables tracking of populations of geese for record keeping purposes.

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