Vernon city council approves plan to cull geese | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon city council approves plan to cull geese

Geese wandering on Kin Beach.
January 26, 2021 - 11:19 AM

Vernon council is moving forward with a plan to cull geese in an effort to rid the city's beaches and parks of the invasive birds.

Councillor Dalvir Nahal put forward the motion to cull the geese having raised the issue in early 2020 but failed at the time to get a majority of councillors to support it.

However, at its Jan. 25 meeting, Vernon council voted five to two in favour of killing the geese.

"I don't want to kill these geese anymore than anyone else does, but when it becomes a health issue, and a livelihood issue, and it does impact us in more than one way, it's no different to me than controlling the rodent population," Nahal told following the meeting.

According to a staff report, roughly 70 geese nests were found in and around Vernon last year. A significant increase compared to the 10 or 20 nests which had been present several years earlier. Unlike the majority of geese in Canada, the geese found in the Okanagan are not a native species having been introduced between the 1950s and 1970s and therefore do not migrate.

The issue of goose poop on Kin Beach, Polson Park and Paddlewheel Park has been a source of annoyance for years, and Nahal said she's had endless inquiries from the public requesting something be done about the birds.

The councillor acknowledges it's not a nice thing to do.

"Sometimes you have to make hard decisions for the betterment of the community," she said.

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming and councillor Kelly Fehr were the only opposing voices on council but appeared to look at the issue from different viewpoints.

Mayor Cumming questioned why the MacKay Reservoir, a popular geese hangout, could not be opened up to hunting.

The mayor also questioned whether the estimated $41,000 cost was good value for money. Simple math puts the price tag at roughly $273 per goose.

The culling program would also be an addition to the City's goose mitigation program. Currently, it spends $35,000 on goose scare tactics and $15,000 on an egg addling program.

Coun. Fehr's objection to the cull appeared to be based more on ethical lines and he said he was struggling with the decision.

"I don't want to kill geese anymore than anyone else does... the fact they are an invasive species is not their fault," Coun. Fehr said.

Fehr asked whether they was any evidence that goose poop was a legitimate health concern or just an annoyance?

READ MORE: Geese only partly to blame for Kin Beach water woes

Not all councillors were as sympathetic to the plight of the geese.

"I grew-up shooting these things," councillor Brian Quiring told the meeting. "(I'm) absolutely in favour."

However, Coun. Quiring was concerned about the cost.

Council also questioned how effective the cull would be if other cities north and south of Vernon did not take part?

"What we want to avoid is them going from one beach to another," Coun. Nahal said.

Council also heard that the Okanagan Indian Band had been approached to see if they were interested in the goose meat, but they had said no.

After much debate concerning cost and effectiveness, council voted in favour of the cull, but asked City staff to bring a report back on how the file could move forward.

Coun. Nahal said provincial and federal permission was needed and geese culls have to take place in June. The councillor also said she was going to introduce the matter to the Regional District of North Okanagan and hopefully get them on board.

"This is to get the ball rolling... there's a lot of red tape," she said.

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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