Animal advocates decry lack of transparency, exploration of non-lethal options in goose cull decision.

VICTORIA, British Columbia, May 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Animal Alliance of Canada is bringing attention to new information garnered from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to Vernon City Hall in the decision-making process leading to the approval of a geese cull in the region.

The FOI material provides little explanation for how a motion to cull 100-150 geese in the region passed in January, 2021 after being defeated in February 2020 following two in-camera meetings.

A 200 page FOI request outlines a variety of reports from staff and other agencies, including Animal Alliance’s own Habitat Modification and Canada Geese manual, but no serious consideration is given to habitat modification items or the lives of the geese.  There is even concern from a vet who specializes in birds with regards to the welfare of the animals in the event of a cull.

For fifteen years the same egg addling with some hazing was done to mitigate complaints related to geese droppings and use of public parks and beaches, with numbers declining overall. They have also passed a bylaw prohibiting the feeding of wildlife to discourage attracting geese to public areas.  

Furthermore, there is acknowledgement in the Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program’s own report of geese conflict being valley-wide, a warning sign that other geese will take place of those killed in a cull.

Jordan Reichert of the Animal Alliance said sadly this is par for the course with municipal handling of geese, deer, and other urban wildlife. “Culling will just create a vacuum for more geese to take their place and they will end up in annual cycle of complaints and more killing. The City has an opportunity to show other municipalities in BC how to cohabitate with geese.  With a bit of effort, Vernon residents can enjoy long-term benefits and Council won't have to get their hands bloodied. We are prepared to help.”

Animal Alliance is also very concerned about the inhumane methods that will likely be used in killing the birds, based on tactics used in other B.C. communities. In Parksville, hundreds of birds have been killed in multiple culls using a bolt-gun, a method that is not generally approved as humane for killing geese. Geese in Vernon are to be rounded up during their molting season, when they cannot fly, and killed.

“It is gut-wrenching to think that these iconic birds will be rounded up with their families when they are most vulnerable and killed in front of each other for hours. All because of their inconvenience to people and a lack of political will to take non-lethal long-term conflict-mitigation seriously.”

Jordan Reichert, Animal Alliance of Canada