Animal Alliance says Vernon's planned 'kill to scare' goose program doomed to fail

Goose kill opposed

Vernon city council’s approval of a proposed "kill to scare" program to reduce numbers at area beaches and parks is being condemned by the Animal Alliance of Canada.

The alliance says the method is unscientific and doomed to fail.

"Kill to scare" tactics target the 'dominant' social goose in the flock, to scare off the rest of the birds.

"The Canadian Wildlife Service says that a 'kill to scare' approach will not significantly reduce goose numbers. It’s clear this new proposal from Vernon lacks a basic understanding of goose behaviour and socialization," says AAC director Barry Kent MacKay.

Earlier this year, the city applied to the federal government to conduct a goose cull, but was told there would not be time to process the application this year.

"There is no 'dominant' goose in a flock for them to target," says the alliance's Jordan Reichert. "They take turns being the leader when they fly to conserve energy, but on the ground, there is no leader to identify in their general socialization patterns. If this is the premise of the city’s kill to scare program, there is no evidence to support it."

Geese mate for life, the alliance says, so killing one of a pair may cause the other to stay nearby for an extended period.

Leaving dead geese on the ground may also be an attractant for scavengers, which may cause further conflict.

"Vernon council has an opportunity to implement evidence-based, long-term, non-lethal co-habitation policy that will reduce conflict with recreational users of parks and beaches," says Reichert. "Short-term killing projects teach a disrespect for wildlife and a lack of creative problem-solving. We can do better by working with wildlife rather than against them."

The alliance has submitted a habitat modification manual to the city, but has not received a response from council. It is asking council to try habitat modification, as non-lethal methods must be attempted prior to applying for a kill permit with the CWS.

"We’ve helped resolve human/wildlife conflicts non-lethally and effectively in other communities, and our offer to assist Vernon still stands," said MacKay.

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