British Columbia

Geese cull proposed in Central Saanich over destroyed crops

A geese cull is being proposed in the District of Central Saanich in B.C. as farmers become more and more aggravated by birds feasting on their crops.

Egg addling and cannons have failed to deter geese that are destroying crops in Central Saanich

A Central Saanich farmer is calling for a cull of non-migratory Canada Geese that are decimating crops. (Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press)

A geese cull is being proposed in the District of Central Saanich in B.C. as farmers become more and more aggravated by birds feasting on their crops.

Long-time farmer Bryce Rashleigh says many crops have begun sprouting, but flocks of nesting Canada geese are scooping them up before farmers can get to them.

Having thousands of dollars worth of crops being destroyed by geese isn't something new in Central Saanich, and efforts like egg addling and cannons have had some success. However, the problem persists, and a cull may be necessary, said Rashleigh.

"We tend to find that the geese, no matter what you tend to do, they get very smart, they'll figure it out," he told All Points West.

"They'll just move far enough of how far you might scare them, and one of the big things that I tend to observe is that it becomes then one farmer chases them off his property, they go to the next farm, and he chases them off.

"It sort of becomes just move, move, move, but we never really solve the problem."

Time to put an end to "all-you-can-eat buffet" 

Even though flocks of migrating geese have always moved through the area, nesting geese that don't migrate are a result of recent human behaviour, according to the District of Central Saanich.

A non-migratory species of the birds were introduced by local hunters in the 1960s and in the absence of predators have continued to multiply. (James Evans/CBC)

In an effort to create hunting opportunities in the 1960s, a joint federal and provincial program brought in young Canada geese that had never learned to migrate. The non-indigenous geese bred, and with no natural predators around, plenty of food from farmland, and a decrease in hunting, the non-migratory birds flourished.

Central Saanich Mayor Ryan Windsor says a cull isn't out of the question, as the geese are treating local farms as if they're an "all-you-can-eat buffet."

"I think when nature's thrown us a curve ball, perhaps because of something we did 40 or 50 years ago by bringing them in the first place, then we have to take some corrective action," he said.

Windsor says he plans to meet with a local MP to discuss a possible cull, and to make the problem a priority at council.


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