Hundreds of Canada geese threatening the safety of Windsor airport were herded into a horse trailer Wednesday and relocated from the city to Holiday Beach in Amherstburg.
The geese were calling a retention pond at Captain Wilson Park home. But they presented a safety threat to pilots and passengers at Windsor International Airport and had to be moved.
"The problem airport operations has with Canada geese at this location is that we’re only 2,000 metres south of two runway approaches," explained Phil Roberts, director of operations at the airport and a member of the Essex County Field Naturalists Club.
Roberts said that in North America, the Canada goose represents the No. 1 strike hazard for aircraft.
"Geese are capable of destroying engines and breaking windshields. It’s a bird we prioritize because it can do a lot of damage to aircraft," Roberts said. "We have zero tolerance for Canada geese on the airfield or near the airfield."
Roberts said the retention pond is perfect habitat for geese. He said the goose population continues to increase mainly because of urban areas where there is no predator or natural controls and where people tend to feed them.
Roberts said there are nearly half a million Canada geese in the lower Great Lakes.
"Wildlife control is difficult in residential environments," he said.
Wednesday, several people used snow fence and a horse trailer to round up the geese and their goslings, neither of which can fly at this time of year, and move them to Holiday Beach.
"It went very well," Roberts said. "One of the critical pieces of this is that you don’t stress the birds too much. And the other important thing is that they are released as one big family unit."
Roberts said the geese were moved in the name of public safety and none was injured.
Victor Dominato, a pilot for 35 years, had a close call with a goose at Windsor airport. He said rounding up the geese was a good move.
"This place is the habitat for Canada geese," Roberts said of Holiday Beach. "In many ways it is a much better place [than Captain Wilson Park," he said.
Roberts said the hope is that the goslings return to Holiday Beach and not Captain Wilson Park next year.