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Unwelcome Canada geese prompt push to allow hunting on Victoria farmland

There's a push to change local firearms bylaws to allow for more hunting of Canada geese on Victoria-area farmland.

Change could give farmers more ammunition to fight crop damage from growing geese population

But Terry Michell, of Michell Bros. Farm in Central Saanich, said farmers are losing the battle with a growing number of birds in the region. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

There's a push to change local firearms bylaws to allow for more hunting of Canada geese on Victoria-area farmland.

Farmers are currently allowed to kill a small number of geese per week if they have a crop-damage permit from the Canadian Wildlife Service.

But Terry Michell, of Michell Bros. Farm in Central Saanich, said they are losing the battle with a growing number of birds in the region.

"The population is way out of control on them," he said. "When they are hungry, they are eating and are just devastating to many crops."

A proposal from Mike Hicks could give farmers like Michell more ammunition.

Hicks, who represents the Juan de Fuca area in the Capital Regional District, is proposing a change to firearms bylaws in rural municipalities that would allow for the hunting of geese on farmland during designated seasons.

The change would greatly increase the number of birds that could be taken, and it would allow them to be hunted for food, Hicks said.

"If we had 50 farms doing that, we would not only maintain the level of geese in the CRD, we would reduce the number of geese in the CRD at no cost to the taxpayer," Hicks said.

Population growing

The number of geese in the Victoria area is already too high at about 6,000 birds, and could rise to 60,000 over the next two decades if there's no intervention, Hicks said.

It's not the first time the region has tried to address the growing Canada geese population. Last year, the Capital Regional District carried out a cull. But only 43 birds were killed at a cost of $31,000.

Beyond damage on farms, the birds are a nuisance at sports fields and golf courses, Hicks added.

"We have to do something to reduce the number of geese in the Capital Regional District, let alone Vancouver Island," he said.

The proposal from Hicks has received the support of other directors on the Capital Regional District board.

The municipalities of North Saanich, Central Saanich, Saanich, Metchosin and Sooke will now be consulted to see if they will consider changing their firearms bylaws.

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