The iconic Canada goose (Branta canadensis) can be found in Whistler, although over the past ten years the population has changed its behaviour from briefly visiting the valley along its annual migration route to full-time summer residence.
The geese population has now increased and has environmental, social and economic impacts on Whistler. Most notably, significant amounts of geese fecal matter are left daily on the grasses and shorelines of several local lakeside parks, impacting local water quality. In June of 2015, a daily average of 34 kilograms of goose fecal matter was found at Rainbow Park and the beach was temporarily closed for swimming due to unsafe E. coli levels in the water.
This is a community-wide problem and the RMOW is managing the local goose population through a Goose Management Strategy developed in 2015, which addresses:
- population control,
- deterrence techniques and
The RMOW’s objective is to work towards an acceptable population of geese in the community, not to eradicate them from Whistler entirely. An acceptable population is one that:
- supports the health and diversity of our ecosystems,
- does not expose people to high risk fecal contamination levels (as defined by Vancouver Coastal Health’s water quality standards) and
- balances human enjoyment of public recreation areas.
Inventory and Monitoring
- A critical factor in the success of the RMOW’s geese management efforts is finding new nests. With the community’s help, the RMOW aims to monitor local geese nests, particularly those located near parks and recreation areas.
- The RMOW monitors water quality at local swimming beaches, which can be impacted by goose fecal matter.
- RMOW Environmental Technicians conduct regular research and monitoring on the local goose population to contribute to the objectives of the Goose Management Strategy.
Policy and Planning
- In 2015, the RMOW developed a science-based Goose Management Strategy, which guides our approach to managing the geese population and associated impacts.
- All management techniques outlined in the Goose Management Strategy follow best practices as determined by Environment Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service.
Working with Partners
- The RMOW worked with community residents and stakeholders to develop the Goose Management Strategy. Implementation of this Strategy continues to be a collaborative efforts among stakeholders.
- The RMOW works with Provincial and Federal agencies to ensure that our geese management approaches and techniques follow best practices and are in accordance with all relevant requirements.
- The Goose Management Committee is a group of trained local volunteers and their dogs who patrol select beaches to scare geese away.
On the Ground
As part of its Geese Management Plan, the RMOW conducts the following activities:
- Egg addling – eggs are addled by removing them from the nest and cooling them. Much like when a chicken egg is removed from a nest, when a goose egg is removed from the nest, it stops developing. Egg addling is conducted by the RMOW following the methods outlined by the Humane Society and according to the specified terms of relevant permits. Only eggs in early development are permitted to be addled. An egg’s development stages is determined through monitoring and float tests.
- Deterrence – Various deterrence techniques (E.g. fencing, hazing with dogs) have been employed with varying degrees of success. Please contact email@example.com before deterring geese. Some deterrence techniques require a permit. The RMOW also uses several techniques simultaneously to avoid the geese becoming habituated.
How Can You Help?
The community needs to work together to ensure the geese management program is a success. Here are some things you can do to help:
- Track and report geese nests – contact our Environmental Stewardship team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Join the Environmental Stewardship volunteer team to actively participate in spring and summer geese management efforts.
- If your property is experiencing problems with geese, please contact email@example.com and we will connect with you to share information and tips on managing geese.
- Frequently asked questions about Whistler’s geese management efforts
- Here are recent articles about goose management in the Okanagan, after which Whistler's goose management program is modelled.
- Canadian Wildlife Federation: the Canada Goose
RMOW Environmental Technician