WATCH: The City of Parksville wants to cull its population of Canada geese. The goose population is down by at least 20 per cent from six years ago, but the city says more of the birds need to be killed to control their numbers. But as Kendall Hanson reports, not everyone agrees.
They’re loud, messy and in Parksville, the city says there are too many of them.
Officials say flocks of Canada geese are destroying sensitive fish habitat.
“We’re experiencing significant damage in the estuaries where the geese are eating the eel grass and the eelgrass is what holds the riverbed silt together at the end of the estuaries. What’s happening now is that it’s deteriorating,” said Ed Mayne, Parksville’s mayor.
Other issues include unsanitary conditions from droppings in parks and on beaches. The owners of one farm say the geese eat grass and damage crops. The damage costs tens-of-thousands of dollars each year.
Parksville has tried to keep the geese under control. For the past three years, there have been yearly culls. First Nations harvest the meat. Last year, the city sanctioned the killing of nearly 500 birds. But, despite the Canada geese population on the central island dropping by almost 30 per cent from its previous high, the city says more birds have to go.
“You have to remember Canada geese are not indigenous to Vancouver Island,” said Mayne. “They were brought here in the 70s by the federal government and they don’t leave. They’re not migratory.”
But another mass kill is controversial.
“It doesn’t feel humane to gather them all up in a place and shoot them. They mate for life and I just think ‘could you imagine being rounded up with a group of friends and watching them get killed?'” said Megan Keene, a Parksville resident.
Recently, Keene started an online petition against the annual harvest. So far more than 500 people have signed it.
“I wish they could do it better. Find a better way to control the population without shooting them, gathering them up. It must be traumatic,” said Keene.
She hopes enough people will let the city know they’re against the next cull.
But so far, Parksville plans to proceed with another harvest in late June.