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Goose cull proposed to keep Vernon beaches, parks poop free

Geese are seen wandering on Kin Beach in Vernon in this file photo.
February 21, 2020 - 10:45 AM

The City of Vernon may decide to cull around 150 geese this summer in an effort to rid the beaches and parks of the poop the birds leave behind.

The plan to cull the birds is set to cost $41,000 if the City decides to go ahead and kill the geese.

In a report due to be presented to Vernon council Feb. 24, City staff list three recommendations to help mitigate the issue of the geese.

The report says a 'Kill program' would eliminate approximately 150 geese and would take place mid to late June. Once the geese are dead "they would be rounded up into a trailer, and taken to a location to be dispatched," says the report.

The report acknowledges the plan "may be unpopular" and there "would likely be an adverse public and media reaction to this."

Last summer Kin Beach was closed to swimmers due to high E. coli levels, an issue Interior Health partly blamed on geese.

Another option is to look at changing the landscaping at Kin Beach and Paddlewheel Park to make it less goose friendly, at an estimated cost of $20,000 to $2-million. The report says changing the landscaping may reduce the number of geese in the area, but the birds will no doubt just move elsewhere.

The further option is to employ a full-time staff member to use scare tactics at Kin Beach, Paddlewheel Park and Lakeshore Park, at a cost of $60,000 a year. The report says the staff member would work regular working hours giving the geese free-range after hours.

Currently, the City spends $35,000 annually on goose management and uses scare and addling techniques. Council also approved an extra $15,000 towards the addling program on Feb. 10, to deal with geese nesting outside the beach areas.

While the City report doesn't specifically say how the geese would be killed, the administration doesn't recommend "hunting" for food as an option. The report says this would need federal and provincial hunting permits valid only for a specified period of time.

Another method that would leave the goose carcasses out in the open to act as a deterrent to other birds, is also not recommended by staff.

Goose egg addling started in the Okanagan in 2007 takes place from Osoyoos to Vernon. In 2016 the Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program reported they'd addled 13,000 goose eggs, which had reduced the bird population by 50 to 75 per cent.

According to the Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program, the geese are a hybrid of several different breeds of geese that were transplanted as flightless young in the 1960s and 1970s and had no opportunity to learn migratory patterns.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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