July 04, 2016 - 4:34 PM
VERNON - A gang of Canada Geese spot their next target, a family picnicking on Kal Beach, and move in. They approach with no hesitation whatsoever, their webbed feet treading boldly on beach towels. They are shooed away, but it’s no matter; someone further down the beach will surely toss them some food.
The flock of roughly ten geese makes its way up and down the beach, stopping at each group of beach-goers. Mostly, they stick together — strength in numbers, perhaps — but there are a few stragglers here and there. We decided to check things out at Kal Beach after a Vernon woman’s Facebook post generated comments from other beach-goers about toes being bitten by fearless geese and people being chased down by aggressive flocks.
Today, the geese get mixed reactions from people: some laugh, some appear afraid, and others just look annoyed as they try to guard their french fries.
Visitor Chad Wiseman and his family, from Calgary, had barely sat down before the flock found them.
“They are quite bold,” Wiseman says. “They just keep coming back and hanging around. I’m sure all they’re looking for is handouts, because a lot of people like feeding geese, I guess.”
Back in Calgary, he says there are many signs telling people not to feed geese because it leads to the birds sticking around and not migrating when they’re supposed to. So far, he hasn’t seen any signs like that in Vernon.
The Wisemans aren’t particularly afraid of the geese — although they did get a menacing hiss from one of them.
“Before it was like they were coming in as a gang,” laughs Wiseman.
The Conservation Service doesn’t suggest feeding any wildlife, and that includes Canada Geese.
“It’s not a good idea to food-condition any wildlife. It’s not good for them and can kill them,” conservation officer Ken Owens says. “It’s a real challenge because people like to see wildlife.”
While it’s an offence under the Wildlife Act to feed dangerous wildlife such as cougars and bears, geese aren’t considered dangerous — although they can be, particularly when defending their nests.
However, you’re still liable to receive a fine for feeding geese under North Okanagan Regional District parks bylaws.
According to the regional district, you’re not allowed to feed animals or fowl in parks. The fine for such an offence can be between $50 and $2,000.
Both Kin Beach and Kal Beach are sub-regional parks and would be subject to the bylaw.
According to Environment Canada, goose populations have seen extraordinary growth over the years years, and not even liberalized hunting regulations have kept them in check. That’s led some cities to launch egg-addling programs to reduce populations.
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