The Canada goose is a national symbol and international pest

Steve Mertl
National Affairs Contributor
Daily Brew

They're a national symbol - heck, they've even got the country's name right in there - but Canada geese can also be pests, as anyone who's treaded carefully around the slimy deposits they leave in parks will know.

But not everyone's prepared to kill nuisance geese. A plan to to shoot 200 Canada geese living around England's Lake Windermere has sparked opposition from animal lovers, including Queen guitarist Brian May and TV personality Bill Oddie.

Some 2,600 people have signed a petition asking the Windermere Geese Management Group to reconsider the cull, BBC News reports.

Petition organizer Neil Ryding said he believed wildlife, including an estimated 1,200 Canada geese, is a major draw for visitors to Britain's scenic Lake District and that "going to shoot these birds is just wrong."

But the geese management group, which includes local landowners and the Lake District National Park Authority, are holding fast to the planned spring cull, citing the birds' "serious negative effects," according to the Westmorland Gazette.

"These serious negative impacts include: damage to shoreline habitats, displacement of native species, farm grazing and crop land spoiled, pollution of public and private recreational land and public health concerns from pathogens, bacteria and parasites," the group said in a statement.

"The group understands the emotive nature of the proposals and the strong beliefs held by some people," it continued, adding the cull would be carried out "professionally, quickly and humanely."

Pesky Canada geese are even a problem on the far side of the world.

The recent killing of more than 12,000 Canada geese in the Canterbury region of New Zealand prompted complaints to the the country's conservation minister, said Radio New Zealand.

But the issue wasn't the geese massacre itself; it was that lead shot had been fired over Lake Ellesmere and that geese were also rounded up and clubbed on the head. People were also upset that dozens of carcasses went uncollected.

Closer to home, there are calls for something to be done about the flock of Canada geese that lives along the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.

In a column in the Washington Post, Gary Newton said replacement of the famous landmark's 90-year-old concrete lining is a good time to get rid of the birds.

"My concern is that when this beloved pool opens afresh this spring, a pool that has reflected some of the nation's most important events — Marian Anderson's concert, Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech, Forrest Gump's reunion with Jenny — it will be besmirched by the same flock of unkempt Canada geese that besmirched the old pool with impunity for years," Newton wrote.

"Canada geese flying south in the fall in V-shaped formation at 3,000 feet honking happily are romantic. Canada geese waddling along the edge of the reflecting pool, stuffed with free American grass and depositing dollops of green guano as though they own the place, are a pest."

Newton isn't advocating a lethal goose cull. He suggests hazing, using harassment and intimidation to discourage geese from sticking around.

"With possible assistance from the Canadian embassy, these low-cost interventions might prompt the Canada geese to self-deport, leaving our new reflecting pool sustainably pristine."