This goose family went for a leisurely stroll down Vernon's Main Street Saturday, April 25. (Dave Deshane photo)

Vernon’s scare-to-kill goose tactic ‘doomed to fail’: Animal rights group

Animal Alliance of Canada opposed to city’s newest plan to mitigate goose problem

An animal rights group is once again finding itself in opposition with the City of Vernon’s plans to manage its goose population.

City council recently approved a $15,000 scare to kill tactic after the proposed cull wasn’t approved in time by the federal government, but the Animal Alliance of Canada (AAC) says this tactic is “unscientific and doomed to fail.”

“The Canadian Wildlife Service says that a ‘kill to scare’ approach will not significantly reduce goose numbers,” the alliance’s director Barry Kent MacKay said in a July 22 statement. “It’s clear this new proposal from Vernon lacks a basic understanding of goose behaviour and socialization.”

Instead, the AAC is urging the city to attempt habitat modification.

“Vernon council has an opportunity to implement an evidence-based, long-term, non-lethal co-habitation policy that will reduce conflict with recreational users of parks and beaches,” AAC’s Jordan Reichert said.

“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 kill to scare tactic involves removing the dominant goose, through lethal measures.

“The remainder of the flock tends to disperse and leave the area in smaller groups,” public works general manager Chris Ovens said in a report to council.

The program has been successfully used in neighbouring communities and is recommended by the city’s goose control contractor, the report reads.

The AAC, however, said there is no dominant goose in a flock to target.

“They take turns being the leader when they fly to conserve energy,” Reichert said in a letter. “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.”

The scare effect may be a miss, too, the organization said.

“The presumed outcome of leaving dead geese on the ground to scare off others is founded on flawed logic,” a statement from AAC reads. “If the killing will be done during their moulting season when they cannot fly, they will not be overhead and avoid the area because they see a dead goose below.”

Leaving carcasses about may also attract other predators or scavengers, which could cause more conflict with beach users.

The AAC said they have yet to hear from the City of Vernon. Meanwhile, the city is still in the permit application process.

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