Geese be gone

Jeff Krieger

Jeff Krieger, a Nuisance Wildlife Technician, with his dog Pixie, has been hired to help keep Canadian geese off the grass in Work Point.

Lorraine Crinkley, Formation Environment Office ~

Impacts from non-migratory resident Canada geese can be observed all over CFB Esquimalt and include the degradation of lawn and sports fields, large amounts of fecal matter, and during breeding season goose aggression.

Conflicts between geese and base activities are an ongoing issue at CFB Esquimalt’s Work Point property. Large goose numbers have caused training areas and playing fields to be unusable due to excessive pitting from grubbing. (eating down into the sand layer), and excessive fecal matter. Walkways, parking lots and stairs also become covered in feces which make them slippery and unsightly.

The ocean side Work Point property is an ideal location for non-migratory resident Canada geese. It provides large open green spaces for geese to forage and rest. Work Point is also a fairly quiet site, especially outside of regular business hours – this means geese are not disturbed or feel pressured by the presence of people or dogs, and that creates a safe haven.

In the fall of 2015 staff from the Naval Officer Training Centre (NOTC) began completing daily goose observations at Work Point and documented the location, number of geese, and their behaviour. These observations were collected to establish baseline data on the population. Formation Safety and Environment (FSE) subsequently hired EBB Consulting Inc. to complete an assessment of the population at Work Point and provide recommendations to mitigate impacts and reduce conflicts.

Using the observational data collected, EBB Consulting was able to determine that during the winter months, daily goose numbers at Work Point was consistent with 30 to 40 individuals. EBB Consulting recommended trialing techniques such as dog hazing, installing barriers and fences, re-landscaping to include trees and shrubbery, and temporary flagging to disrupt flight paths, as well as changing grass type to a less palatable species.

FSE plans to trial some of these goose deterrent efforts at the Work Point property over the summer, and have already begun to implement some changes. They have worked with NOTC workers and Real Property Operations Section (RP Ops) to install some fencing around the Gunroom lawn to deter geese from walking into the area from the water. Geese love open areas where visibility is good; fencing acts to break up open areas making it less appealing and accessible.

FSE has hired wildlife consultant Jeff Krieger from Alternative Wildlife Solutions, who specializes in humane wildlife management, to conduct a dog hazing trial at Work Point. Krieger is accompanied by his Jack Russel Terrier “Pixie” who wears a blue vest and a bell on her collar. Pixie is very fast, so her bell alerts geese that she is present and affords them a little extra time to flee the area.

The key to successfully deterring geese is variability in the methods, and using multiple methods in conjunction with each other. Geese are easily habituated, and can quickly become un-phased by familiar pressure tactics. For this reason, Krieger and Pixie are currently hazing the Work Point site several times a day at ever-changing times. Dog hazing combined with the addition of fencing appears to be making the area less desirable as goose numbers have already decreased noticeably. The dry summer weather and browning of the lawn areas may also be making the area less enticing.

FSE  and RP Ops are also looking at implementing some long-term deterring techniques that were recommended by EBB Consulting including planting trees, landscaping, permanent fencing and changing the grass to a less palatable species. The challenge will be to find the right combination of efforts that can be sustained long term.

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