EDITORIAL: A time to kill?

Efforts to rejuvenate the Englishman River estuary may have to include a cull of Canada geese

ity council and Environment Canada are faced with some tough decisions if they are to help restore the Englishman River estuary.

Shooting Canada Geese seems almost sacrilegious. What’s next, the slaughter of beavers?

Thing is, these geese are more than a nuisance. The poop in the parks, the ball fields and golf courses, is bad enough. However, these beautiful and iconic birds are wreaking havoc on the Englishman River estuary to the point where they are having an effect on many other species.

The geese are interlopers. They were introduced to the Mid-Island region in the 1970s. They are not indigenous to these parts.

(We hope we have learned not to introduce species to foreign areas. Want to read about another good-idea-gone-bad in this regard? Google Mysis shrimp in Okanagan Lake and learn what it did to the Kokanee salmon population).

So, we have a foreign species taking over an ecologically-important area of the region, perhaps THE most important natural area in Parksville Qualicum Beach, the Englishman River estuary. The geese do what they do — munch and poop and procreate — at a prolific pace. They have grubbed the ground off so much vegetation, the estuary looks barren compared to what it looked like a few decades ago.

All this munching and procreation has, and will continue, to effect the lives and future of species that have called this estuary home for a long time, most notably salmon. The fish need the weeds and grasses on the banks to create water situations conducive to their life cycle.

The geese are not stupid. They know they can stay in city limits and in the estuary safely, away from the guns of hunters.

We do not envy the city and Environment Canada for the decision they have to make, but it’s clear they have to move forward with a cull. It will be interesting to see the reaction of the public — the vision of a government-approved, systematic slaughter of perhaps hundreds of Canada Geese is not a pretty one.

We believe the experts. The experts told city council on Monday night a cull is the best way to get the situation under control and move forward with the restoration of the estuary. These experts don’t want to kill geese — but they are looking at the bigger picture.

Stay tuned.

— Editorial by John Harding

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