Vancouver Park Board approves 'lethal removal' plan to control Canada goose population

·3 min read
The Vancouver Park Board has approved a management plan that includes 'lethal removal' of Canada geese as a method of population control. (Rafferty Baker/CBC - image credit)
The Vancouver Park Board has approved a management plan that includes 'lethal removal' of Canada geese as a method of population control. (Rafferty Baker/CBC - image credit)

The approval of a new Canada goose management plan by the Vancouver Park Board means the city is a step closer to culling the birds.

On Monday, the board adopted the plan in an effort to get the city's growing goose population under control. The plan includes measures already employed by the board such as addling — switching out viable goose eggs from the nest for frozen duds — and also supports the "lethal removal" of geese if required.

According to a staff report, there were a minimum of 2,200 geese in Vancouver in 2022 and the population is estimated to be growing by 18 per cent every year.

The report says addling has not been effective enough because geese nest in areas that are hard to access. Without a "reasonable mitigation approach" there could be 10,000 geese living in the city by 2030, the report adds.

While the board has now supported killing the birds to control their numbers, federal and provincial permits will be required before any cull can take place.

"That process includes showing ... an approved management plan and demonstrating that the current methods that we are using to mitigate the impacts of geese are insufficient," said Dana McDonald, environmental stewardship co-ordinator with the Vancouver Park Board.

Dillon Hodgin/CBC
Dillon Hodgin/CBC

According to the board, the birds have no natural predators and are wreaking havoc on parks and fields by munching on new grass. They also pollute beaches and pools, destroy juvenile salmon habitat by eating sedge grass in estuaries, and can dig holes around sprinkler heads to access water.

They can also act aggressively toward people and pets.

There's also the issue of excrement, which seems to be underfoot everywhere in the city in the springtime. Compared to other species, Canadian geese produce a lot of excrement for their size, defecating on average every 12 minutes.

CBC spoke to several Vancouver residents enjoying public spaces Monday to hear how locals are coping with the birds.

While several people acknowledged the birds can be messy and pesky, not everyone was enthusiastic about the thought of having them killed.

Ruth Abrahams said she's not adverse to addling but totally against culling the birds, which she called a national treasure.

"I don't want to see them out of control but I think they should be allowed to live their lives, the ones that are alive right now," said Abrahams.

Rafferty Baker/CBC
Rafferty Baker/CBC

The board was presented with two proposed management scenarios.

The first option had a longer timeline of 15-20 years to stabilize the bird population through actions such as increased addling and enforcement of the wildlife feeding bylaw. The second option shortens the timeline to 5-10 years and includes the option of "population reduction through removal."

The board went with the second scenario.

The Canada Goose Management Plan notes the resources needed to carry out lethal removal include trained experts and funds for meat processing, listing goose meat as a benefit of managed removals.

The park board said the proposed plan will cost up to $375,000 and the money will be requested from city council as part of the 2024 operating budget process.

The board is still hoping to target eggs by addling and is asking residents to identify the location of any nests they find. Nests can be reported by calling 311 or sending an email to