The resident Canada Goose population has resulted in beach closures due to fecal counts in the water, which also adversely affects fish populations. Last summer, the birds dropped up to 34 kg of feces on the shorelines and grasses of Rainbow Park per day.
To address the issue, the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) developed a goose management strategy that follows a multifaceted approach to aversion as well as clean-up efforts.
Key to the success of the program is finding new nests. The public is asked to report lone geese, pairs of geese, or nest locations on private or public land by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Keep away from goose nests and avoid touching the eggs. A special permit is required from the federal government that allows named individuals to addle goose eggs on public and private lands with the owners' permission. Several deterrence techniques require a permit as well and geese can become habituated to over-used deterrence techniques so please contact the RMOW prior to administrating geese management.
Canada Geese are a federally regulated species and the RMOW is following Environment Canada’s handbook on management techniques to avoid conflicts and help control goose populations.
During peak times, RMOW staff sweep the beach, grass area and docks as required. Beach users are encouraged to utilize the provided rakes, if accumulations are present. A dog may be on the beach area each day at various times in the early morning and evening hours to discourage the birds from overnighting and foraging on the turf. No birds will be injured in the process.
Other conflict reduction techniques the RMOW is exploring include the following.
Preventing geese from using an area is the most proactive and benign way to reduce conflict. In some circumstances this can be done by modifying habitat, so it is not attractive or suitable for geese. In urban and rural environments trees, hedges, or other barriers can be installed to prevent easy access to water from land. RMOW crews may install shoreline fixtures such as string lines, flashing lights or bird scare tape, these fixtures make the birds uneasy and encourage their departure. Further modifications to the landscape may include grading and stone placement along with vegetation planting.
Water management is a specific and crucial element of habitat modification. Open water sources, particularly fresh water adjacent to lawns or fields are attractants to geese. Water features must be rimmed with appropriate vegetation preventing easy access between lawn and water, increasing predation risk, and reducing forage potential.
Hazing is an effective means of temporarily scaring geese away from a conflict area and can be useful in parks during peak summer public use, golf courses, and agricultural fields. The key to hazing is to prevent a routine to which geese become habituated and hazing no longer works. If not done correctly, an unintended consequence of hazing geese can be the shift of geese from one location to another, thus diffusing and spreading the problem and not alleviating the problem.
The egg addling program involves replacing real eggs in the nest with fake ones. Geese continue to incubate until they realize the eggs will not hatch. At this point, it is generally too late in the year to produce more eggs. Adults are not harmed and will continue with their regular life cycle.