Glut of geese perplexing Richmond, B.C.
One politician favours a cull, but snow geese are a protected species
The annual arrival of more than 100,000 snow geese in Richmond, B.C., is either a spectacular display of nature's abundance or a major pest problem that's grown out of control, depending on your point of view.
The fowl arrive hungry and they tend to find meals in the city’s expansive farmlands or on residents’ lawns.
Richmond city councillor Harold Steves, who also owns farmland, thinks it might be time to consider a cull.
"The flock is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. We have got to reduce the size of the flock," Steves said Monday.
But that decision cannot be made arbitrarily at the municipal level, because snow geese are a protected species.
So the city is trying a variation on a previous strategy.
In 2010, Richmond spent $100,000 on dog teams to scare the geese away from parks, similar to what Vancouver International Airport does to try to keep birds away from aircraft.
It proved not to be effective because the animals often just flew to the next park.
Now the city is asking for 16 volunteers with dogs to spend evenings and weekends scaring away the geese from several parks at the same time, in the hope the birds will move on.
"By having dogs in every park with volunteers, we can drive them across the highway to the farming area or to Delta," said Steves. "The big flaw in that argument is that there isn’t enough grass in those areas to feed them."
So far, the city has received 14 applications from volunteers and their dogs, ready to take a run at the snow goose problem.
The city will provide two hours of training and then the teams will begin work.
The program will run from November to April.
With files from the CBC's Kirk Williams