Another goose cull, which saw 484 geese killed last year, may be needed in Parksville to continue to restore the local estuaries. — NEWS file photo

Parksville may reprise goose cull in 2018

Englishman River estuary recovering following 2016 cull, council told

After 484 Canada geese were killed in Parksville last year in a controversial cull, another thinning of the flock may be required next year, city council learned last week.

John Cooper, president of the Guardians of the Mid-Island Estuaries Society, provided Parksville city council a report during its Sept. 6 meeting, reviewing the society’s work over the past year and sharing its goals for the coming year.

Since the 2016 goose cull in Parksville, Cooper said, carex and other native grasses have returned to the Englishman River estuary after foraging by the invasive geese had decimated the vegetation.

“I think we need to reduce the (population) further, probably another 50 per cent from what it is now,” Cooper said. “The cull in 2016 had an immediate impact, we can see anecdotally in estuary plants growing where they were not growing before. This tells me this is what we need to do.”

Related: Parksville culls 484 geese

Since the June 26, 2016 cull of Canada geese, a non-native species introduced to Vancouver Island for hunting, the Guardians of the Mid-Island Estuaries Society and its partner groups have performed two other culls — the removal of 100 birds from the Little Qualicum River estuary and a 950-goose cull in Campbell River, said Cooper.

“We’re hoping by keeping the numbers down, we can restore the estuaries to their former glory.”

The 2016 cull followed a five-year study by the Guardians, partially funded by the City of Parksville and begun in 2011. Years of addling eggs to prevent goslings from hatching, Cooper said, failed to reduce the local population of Canada Geese.

When council approved and funded the 2016 cull to the tune of $35,000 — of which $12,000 was contributed by the Regional District of Nanaimo — it was met with a vigorous response from both supporters and protesters. One protest of the Parksville cull even sprang up in Victoria among supporters of the birds.

“I remember very vividly you coming to council for money to carry on these studies,” Mayor Marc Lefebvre told Cooper. “Myself and some of the councillors were irritated at the time because we knew the number of birds, we knew the estuary looked like a moonscape and we were questioning, ‘Why wait?’

“But I’m glad we waited, because after that was done I got some very interesting phone calls.”

During last week’s meeting, Parksville councillors seemed sold on the results, particulary after seeing a slideshow Cooper presented indicating vegetation is returning to the Englishman River estuary.

“I know this is difficult because it’s been controversial,” Coun. Leanne Salter said. “We’re never going to be getting everyone to agree with it. But it’s a great way to take care of a problem that was created by people in the first place. People brought (the geese) here, they took off, and now we’re having to deal with the end result of that.”

Volunteers counted 75 nests in 2014, 74 nests in 2015 and 72 nests in 2016, before the cull. This year that number dropped to 26 nests, said Cooper.

“When you came forward with the ultimate solution, I fully supported it,” Coun. Sue Powell told Cooper. “And if we need to go further, to say, half the number we have, I support that as well. When I saw photos of damage to the estuary, I thought it was irreversable.”

Cooper told council the Guardians’ plans for 2018 include a potential second cull from the Little Englishman River estuary, and “possibly Craig Bay.”

The Guardians have also teamed with partners and stakeholders to form a Vancouver Island regional Canada goose working group, which earlier this year created a draft memorandum of understanding on a regional goose management strategy, Cooper said. The working group next meets Oct. 5, at which time it plans to finalize the MOU, he added.

Send story tips to: jr.rardon@pqbnews.com

Just Posted

B.C. freestyle skier wins gold

Cassie Sharpe of Comox shines in the halfpipe

Icy conditions lead to Parksville crash

Sub-freezing overnight temperatures forecast for rest of week

Qualicum Beach Fire & Ice Festival snuffed out

Committee announces termination of event after 25 years

Parksville-Qualicum MLA says throne speech thin on detail

Stilwell: Government lacks economic development plan to pay for promises

VIDEO: Vaudeville variety show in Errington kicks off

Raunchy comedy, impressive singing, sultry dances and more feature in show

Moose creates uber Canadian Olympic moment

A Calgary man shares a truly Canadian moment on Twitter of a Moose enjoying the Olympics

The Wounded Warrior Run makes it to Woss

Feb. 20 marks the Woss to Sayward leg of the run

B.C. drunk driver unknowingly drags snowmobiles along highway

North District RCMP stopped a driver Sunday near Prince George whose two sleds had fallen off a flat deck trailer and were being dragged along behind his truck.

Canada reacts to Cassie Sharpe’s Olympic gold

From Prime Minister Trudeau to Ryan Reynolds, congratulations abound

Vancouver Island job market ever-evolving

Various sectors driving employment in region will be represented at Black Press career fair in Comox Feb. 8

BCHL Today: Shorthanded scoring binge for Victoria Grizzlies and Krall named POW

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at whats going on around the league and the junior A world.

Search continues for B.C. woman missing in Mexico

Gloria Anne Miller was last seen Thursday, Feb. 15 diving in Puerto Vallarta

OLYMPIC ROUNDUP: Canada rounds out Day 11 earning gold in 2 more events

Comox Valley’s Cassie Sharpe and fan-favourites Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir all earned golds

Most Read