By Chad Ingram
From shoreline re-naturalization to drones there are many methods Minden Hills could use to deal with the problem of Canadian geese soiling the township’s Riverwalk pathway.
Community services director Mark Coleman presented a list of options for dealing with the geese population along the Gull River to Minden Hills councillors during a Feb. 11 committee-of-the-whole meeting.
Geese defecating along the river’s banks and the pathway that meanders through the centre of the village of Minden have been an issue for years and past councils have attempted to deal with the problem various ways including the use of dogs to disturb the animals.
Canadian geese are a federally regulated species protected under the Migratory Birds Convention Act.
Coleman who stressed that with his parks background he has plenty of experience dealing with geese told council the best way to deal with the fowl is to use a combination of modified landscape and disturbance.
“Although this may not be perceived as an acceptable solution to some landowners changing the landscape is the best long-term solution to many human-goose conflicts” Coleman wrote in a report. “It is environmentally friendly easy to implement and non-lethal to geese. There are several ways to reduce the attractiveness of habitat in urban and other areas to geese that do not necessarily reduce its attractiveness to humans or other wildlife. Some municipalities have realized unexpected benefits from this approach. Those benefits include greater enjoyment by the public of the larger variety of wild bird species attracted to the increased diversity of habitats provided.”
Because geese prefer open areas that give them room to take off and land using vegetative buffers such as tall grass shrubs trees and bushes can deter geese from using an area.
Coleman said landscape alteration combined with regular hazing of the birds should prove most effective.
Coleman cautioned residents that not just any form of disturbance is permitted for the legislatively protected animals.
“Certain disturbance practices could be deemed harassment of the wildlife” he said.
Regulations state that “any person may without a permit use equipment other than aircraft or firearms to scare migratory birds that are causing or likely to cause damage to crops or other property.”
Acceptable disturbance methods include propane cannons air horns strobe lights and lasers recorded geese distress noises flagging tape and streamers balloons and kites flags scarecrows decoys and motion-activated sprinklers.
Coleman who has practised relocation of the birds in past said this method is ineffective.
“They do come back” he told councillors.
Reeve Brent Devolin said he’d been in contact with a man who uses drones to scare geese off golf courses.
“They start to view it like a predator” Devolin said adding that while geese may be accustomed to being chased on land it seems to frighten them more being chased into the air and so they stay away for longer.
Permits can be acquired from Environment Canada for the killing of geese or destruction of their eggs. Environment Canada has also liberalized hunting regulations pertaining to geese in recent years allowing hunters to take more of the birds.
Residents are asked to refrain from feeding the geese.