March 19, 2014 - 8:54 AM
KELOWNA – There are few things less appealing to summer tourists than a park or beach covered in bird feces.
An adult Canada goose will eat more than a kilogram of grass and damage 1.5 square meters of parkland every day. Multiply that by thousands and you will have an idea of how serious the City is about population control.
Dennis Ingram of Lahawk Industries provides a solution that is both efficient and environmentally safe.
Ingram has been working with birds of prey for more than 45 years. He received a goose management contract from the City of Kelowna in 2006 and has since been using his trained birds of prey and border collies to keep the feathered nuisances away from Kelowna’s busiest tourist spots.
Among his flock are Gyrfalcons, European and North American Goshawks, and the fastest bird of them all: the Peregrine.
Ingram says that each species provides a different advantage. Some are better for starlings and other small birds, while others are large enough to chase off even the biggest goose. And for flocks that outmatch his birds of prey, he brings in his two Border collies Indy and Raider.
“It’s a scare program not a kill program,” he says. “Nobody wants to see anything get killed at the park.”
Ingram says that if wild birds are allowed in an area during winter, by the next spring there could easily be hundreds, if not thousands, in that area.
“The population is always growing,” he says. “At one point during the summer we used to have five hundred Canada geese on the beachfront parks. Now we have maybe 30.”
Training the birds takes time and years of experience. Ingram spends countless hours initiating desirable behavior and then rewarding that behavior. He says it is an ongoing process.
“They’re always learning. At six weeks they are learning something different than when they are six months (old),” he says. “To really be well trained it takes a year.”
Ingram and his team of animal enforcers visit each of Kelowna’s waterfront parks daily. They can be seen at City Park, Boyce-Gyro, Sarson’s and others. He is also contracted to work the Glenmore Landfill, where thousands of birds of all kinds are a daily nuisance.
“It’s a passion,” Ingram says. “You’re always learning.”
To contact the reporter for this story, email Adam Proskiw at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (250) 718-0428.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2014