Status quo for policing snow geese

A dog walker passes a snow goose-covered field. - Martin van den Hemel file photo
A dog walker passes a snow goose-covered field.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel file photo

A new report on how Richmond intends to manage snow geese offers nothing new to those hoping to rid parks and playing fields of the grass-eating fowl.

Presented Tuesday at city council’s parks and recreation committee meeting, the Urban Wildlife Management Framework stops well short of calling for a cull.

“The urban wildlife management framework will allow staff to respond to residents’ questions and concerns while ensuring the city is working within the appropriate regulatory environment and respecting our city’s unique ecology,” noted Serena Lusk, manager of parks programs, in her report.

Since 2007 Richmond has experienced a “significant increase” in snow geese flying into parks and playing fields and feeding on the grass, according to the report, leaving a muddy, goose-poop mess behind.

In 2010 city hall introduced hazing techniques and encouraged farmers to plant cover crops to lure the birds away from fields.

Its new plan of attack, for 2013 to 2015, includes offering education programs, supporting winter cover crops and continuing hazing with dogs, lasers and “scare kites” in public places.

Staff have also pledged to collaborate with a Lower Mainland committee to develop a regional management plan for the snow geese and work with Vancouver Airport Authority on alternative management techniques—such as the use of raptors.

According to the B.C. Ministry of Forests and Lands, migrating snow geese have reached a wintering population of approximately 100,000. Allowing hunters to harvest birds is a method used by senior government officials to control that population. But in Richmond hunting is restricted, except for agricultural areas in south and east Richmond, and only if the property owner agrees.

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