Canada Geese flock to Parksville Community Park — one of many places that city officials say is inundated with Canada geese

Is it time to cull geese in Parksville Qualicum Beach?

Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre says the city 'waits with great anticipation for the cull'

Parksville’s mayor is keen to cull.

On the heels of a costly Canada geese cull in the capital city, the City of Parksville is looking for ways to manage their local population problem.

After a managment strategy three years in the making about “overabundant Canada geese” was presented to the Regional District of Nanaimo board, Parksville Mayor Marc Lefebvre was quick to pledge his support.

“The City of Parksville waits with great anticipation for the cull, we don’t know if yesterday will ever come back,” Lefebvre said earlier this month at the RDN committee of the whole meeting.

“We’ve got geese all over the place. I think the geese suspect we want to do a cull because they’re coming up to city hall.”

However, Lefebvre may be jumping the gun.

Guardians of Mid Island Estuaries Society vice president Tim Clermont explained the primary objective of presenting their strategy to local governments is to put forward their findings and hopefully create a “regional working group” to deal with the geese.

The RDN board passed a motion directing staff to work with Clermont’s regional working group to come up with a strategy to reduce the overabundance of Canada geese. The decision will need to be ratified at tonight’s regular RDN meeting.

Asked about a cull, Clermont said “we’re not there yet.”

Right now, he’s focused on creating a working group with representation from mid-Island communities including Parksville, Qualicum Beach and Nanaimo.

“Local governments in different jurisdictions have to take the lead,” he said. “Somebody has to put forward the permit, or a local management plan, on how to control the geese.”

Meanwhile, media reports from a recent Canada geese cull in Victoria say the Capital Regional District spent more than $30,000 on a cull this year killing just 43 Canada geese — that equals about $725 per goose.

Clermont said the society is hoping to meet with the CRD in December to find out how the cull became so costly.

Lefebvre said he’s not sure who organized Victoria’s cull, but if one takes place in Parksville he assured it would be “cost effective” and “humane.”

According to the society’s report, Canada geese have caused “significant” and “long lasting damage” to mid-Island estuaries.

“Geese have overgrazed mid-Island estuarine marshes, and grubbed the roots and rhizomes along channel edges, exposing thick march platform erosion. Built up over millennia, this platform has washed away in many areas, channels have become shallow, and productive habitats have been reduced to gravel.”

The report states mid-Island marsh ecosystems are at risk of extinction.

It said “urban and agricultural areas have also suffered” pointing out the highest geese densities were found in the Parksville Church Road and Parksville Bay/City regions on sites closet to access to freshwater.

“High concentrations of geese may lead to contamination of drinking water… Young children playing in sand may have a greater exposure to goose-borne bacteria, as bacteria persist longer in sand than in water,” states the report. “The Department of National Defence was concerned about bird strikes near its helicopter pad in Nanoose Bay. Local farmers had experienced crop damage.”

Longtime local bird enthusiast Sandra Grey, who has organized the Brant Festival in the past and often plays a key role in planning the Christmas bird count, said she feels “conflicted” about a Canada geese cull.

Grey said she’s helped Clermont’s group collect data concerning the growing geese population, but “sympathizes” with both sides of the story.

“I don’t like to see the birds killed,” she said.

But Parkville’s mayor said there’s a serious geese problem in the City and strategies like egg addling haven’t proved to be all that successful historically.

“We’ve been saying for a long time we need a cull,” said Lefebvre. “It’s not something anyone takes any pleasure in but we’ve got this problem.”

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