BARKS from the Guild November 2019

Page 25

training

Goose Buster Gail Radtke relates the tale of how her border collie Trixie Mae got herself a job as a force-free goose hazer

© Gail Radtke

© Gail Radtke

Border collie Trixie Mae passed the test and got a job as a goose hazer in a Vancouver area city park

Now, when author Gail Radtke and Trixie Mae arrive at the park, they have become the cue for the geese to leave

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is currently no data regarding rates of infection, nor any indication of disease spikes around areas with geese (Humane Society of the United States, 2012). However, warmer months pose the greatest risk because they provide ideal bacterial growth conditions (Ray 2011; Kullas, Coles, Rhyan & Clark, 2002). Goose droppings can also “foul footpaths, docks, beaches and lawns, and may contribute to contamination of nearby water with parasites and coliform bacteria.” (Environment Canada ­ Canadian Wildlife Service, 2010.)

n the Greater Vancouver area of British Columbia where I am grateful to call home, we have large numbers of beautiful parks, many of them along ocean and lake waterfronts. With a mild climate and ecosystem, we are fortunate to have diverse wildlife, marine life and birds – lots of them – and a growing population of majestic Canada Geese. And, due to the milder climate we enjoy on the west coast of Canada, we also have a situation where we have geese that are no longer migrating. The Canada Geese that are now year­round residents in several areas in and around Vancouver are commonly referred to as ‘’resident’’ geese. According to the Canadian Wildlife Service, southern British Co­ lumbia currently hosts 37,828 Canada Geese, while regulatory goals for southern British Columbia have adopted a population objective of 10­ 15,000 geese. This will require a significant reduction in population (Pierce, 2016). The resident geese graze year­round and this can cause damage to ecosystems, waterways and park areas. There is also the problem with waste. A single goose produces 1 pound of waste per day and this is rendering some park areas unusable for people and domestic pets, given concerns regarding disease transmission. While diseases that are potentially infectious to humans may be found in goose feces, there

Hazing involves chasing geese away every time they arrive at a specific area and is reapplied until all birds have left that area. [Biologist Kurt] Frei refers to it as a “treatment” and it is considered to be the most humane, nonlethal method of population control in urban areas. At no time does Trixie get right up close to the geese.

Resident Geese Within the community, the large populations of resident geese in busy parks, especially near water, have become a growing concern. As such, measures to reduce conflict between geese and humans are now being conducted. One such project is taking place in Rocky Point Park, a 3.8 hectare waterfront park located in Port Moody, a city in Metro Vancouver. Known as the Rocky Point Park Goose Management Plan, the city of Port Moody initiated the development of an official approach to ad­ dress issues with geese in the park. Staff retained the services of Kate Hagmeier, a registered biologist with expertise in the population dy­ namics and behavioral ecology of Canada Geese, who developed the management plan. Also involved is Kurt Frei, a registered biologist and the city’s environmental technician, who is tasked with overseeing the city’s wildlife programs and responding to environmental inquiries from the public. The city takes great care of Rocky Point Park and staff are on site daily to ensure it is pristine and ready for use. Consequently, they have already taken measures to deal with the large amount of goose droppings by adding an attachment to the large lawn mower that main­ tains the area. This acts as a vacuum for the droppings and is known as the Turf Vac 4000.

BARKS from the Guild/November 2019

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