City council has committed to spend up to $5,000 to track thousands of non-native Canada geese that are flocking to the Campbell River estuary and “destroying” the environment.
Coun. Charlie Cornfield told council April 20 that while there are roughly 100 to 150 local Canada geese, each summer around 1,100 non-native geese also congregate in the estuary to lose and replace flight feathers, a process known as moulting.
“Those subsequent 1,100 to 1,200 birds are destroying the islands in the estuary which is habitat for fish and other wildlife species as well as the plant vegetation – they eat it,” Cornfield said.
“When they do that, they pull the roots out and then de-stabilize the soil.”
Cornfield added that it’s been documented by wildlife biologists that “damage to habitat by (the geese) consuming huge quantities of plant material is contributing to erosion of the islands and adversely affecting juvenile salmon, migratory birds and many other species that use estuarine habitat.”
Cornfield said that in order to do the control work necessary to protect the estuary, it first needs to be determined where the birds are and where they’re coming from.
And that’s where the $5,000 comes in.
The Campbell River Environmental Committee, the Nature Trust of BC, the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and the Campbell River Indian Band are working together on a goose banding program.
The cost to implement the program is $26,600 and involves capturing the geese in the summer when the birds have moulted their feathers and can’t fly.
“They would be fitted with plastic neck collars and banded. By adding tags on them, then you can track their movements,” Cornfield said.
“If funding can be secured, experienced professionals will work with volunteers to place 200 neck bands on the geese when they are moulting.
“To me it’s a really good project. I think it’s a good thing.”
Cornfield added that the Environmental Committee is confident that with the funding from the city, the organization can leverage the remaining $13,000.
The City of Campbell River’s portion of the money will come from council’s contingency account.