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Snow geese flock back to Richmond
Legions of snow geese are returning to local marshlands, farm fields and parks, and Richmond is preparing to mount its annual fowl assault.
“The geese are back and continue to be an issue,” said Ted Townsend, city spokesperson.
In Richmond, the birds traditionally feed on intertidal marsh plants, but in recent years they’ve moved inland, feeding on farmers’ fields, parks, school fields and even residential backyards—leaving a muddy, goose-poop mess behind.
Each fall, up to 100,000 of the white birds fly 4,000 kilometres to the Fraser River delta to escape their frigid winter home in Wrangel Island, Russia. By year’s end, many of the birds head farther south to the Skagit delta before returning here in the spring en route to their Russian home.
“We’re continuing with the plan that we’ve had in place for snow geese management, which was tweaked a bit last year primarily with the introduction of the volunteer program,” said Townsend.
That plan, he said, recognizes the value of snow geese to local ecology while addressing the nuisance created by the “continued seasonal overpopulation.”
Dogs are key to the plan. The city recently wrapped up a call for canine hazing services, which will be deployed in goose-blanketed parks to scare the birds away. Volunteer dog handlers will also again be called on to help move geese off school fields.
The city will also continue to offer farmers cash to grow winter cover crops that attract the geese and keep them away from unwanted sites. Wildlife education in local schools will also continue.
Senior government officials consider hunting a method of controlling the goose population, but in Richmond hunting is restricted to agricultural areas in south and east Richmond—and only with permission from the landowner.
Goose hunting season in Richmond opened Oct. 12 and runs to Jan. 5, 2014, reopening Feb. 20 to March 10, according to Environment Canada.