Whistler is home to the iconic Canada goose (Branta canadensis).
Over the past 10 years, however, the population has changed its behaviour from briefly visiting the valley along its annual migration route to full-time summer residence, which has resulted in environmental, social and economic impacts in the community.
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. This is a community-wide challenge that the RMOW is addressing with its Goose Managment Strategy.
Planning and policy
The Resort Municipality of Whistler's science-based Goose Management Strategy developed in 2015 follows Environment Canada and Canadian Wildlife Service best practices, and 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.
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 stage 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 uses several techniques simultaneously to avoid the geese becoming habituated.
Working with partners
- The RMOW developed and implements the Goose Management Strategy in collaboration with community residents and stakeholders.
- The RMOW works with federal and provincial l 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.
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 for information and tips on managing geese.
- Frequently asked questions about Whistler’s geese management efforts
- 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