Take, for example, geese. A hot topic these days, goose populations are grabbing headlines from coast to coast. We’ve started a petition to urge the provincial government in British Columbia to create educational tools for municipalities to prevent cruel, expensive and ineffective culls. We’re grabbing a bit of media attention with that call to action, and it appears that Stu Wells, Mayor of Osoyoos, is accepting an invitation to attend our 3rd Annual Living With Wildlife Conference.
It’s not unusual, however, for municipal leaders and bureaucrats to look at an organization like the Association for the Protection of Fur-Bearing Animals and expect nothing more than petitions and press releases. We like to prove them wrong.
Petitions and press releases are tactics. Their purpose in our strategy is to get people paying attention so that we can present our preferred tactic: solutions.
Mayor Wells seems exasperated – the attempts the municipality has made to clear out the geese have not succeeded thus far. This doesn’t mean a cull is the only option; it merely means a new approach is necessary.
Allowing the lengthening of grass in the area where geese frequent has worked for some municipalities; Mayor Wells says it has not in Osoyoos. Planting thicker shrubs have worked in other communities. Mayor Wells says that ‘egg shaking’ has been unsuccessful and is costly; egg oiling of targeted nests has worked elsewhere.
In fact, there are recent, innovative ideas that are proving effective across North America:
- A photographer’s drone has been retrofitted to haze geese in Ottawa, Ontario
- Coyote decoys, moved every few days, have kept the goose population away in Atkinson, Massachusetts
- A combination of habitat adjustment, egg oiling and humane relocation has succeeded in Oakville, Ontario
In each case, we are certain first, second and even third attempts failed. But by revising tactics and using innovation with an understanding of goose populations, municipalities have avoided culling.
When a municipality decides that their strategy should not – or cannot – be the needless slaughter of wildlife, it’s amazing what new tactics they come up with.
Photo by TheBrockenInGlory (Commons)