Geese flocking to Campbell River Estuary posing threat to sensitive ecosystem

Two-year monitoring study finds majority of Canadian geese are non-native

A population of Canada geese is wreaking havoc on the Campbell River Estuary, according to the results of a two-year goose monitoring study.

Cynthia Bendickson, executive director of Greenways Land Trust which coordinated a goose banding project, said that 200 Canada geese were banded in the estuary and monitored for 18 months to track the birds’ migrating patterns.

Results showed that the majority of the birds were non-native geese flocking to the estuary to lose and replace flight feathers, a process known as moulting.

“After moulting in 2015, a small proportion of these birds remained locally resident – eight per cent – in the Campbell River area, with the rest ranging widely all over the Pacific Flyway including Vancouver Island, the Salish Sea and into the states of Washington and Oregon,” Bendickson said.

“These results demonstrate that there is a population of introduced Canada geese on the West Coast which disperse extensively and are likely impacting many sensitive ecosystems, not just resident geese that are causing localized issues.”

The 100-hectare estuary has seen an explosion of migratory Canada geese in recent years. In 2016, more than 1,400 geese were recorded in the estuary during the birds’ early summer moult.

The return rate that year was 26 per cent, including a pair that had overwintered on the west coast of Washington state.

“Peak counts during the moult increased over the period 2013-2016 from 1,081 to 1,442, an increase of over 30 per cent,” Bendickson said.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of geese in the estuary, particularly those non-native geese that impact plant vegetation in the estuary – a sensitive habitat for fish and other wildlife species.

“Suspected ecological impacts from these non-native introduced Canada geese in estuarine ecosystems include disruptions to nutrient cycling, reductions in estuary productivity, erosion and reduced habitat value for other species, particularly for juvenile salmonids,” Bendickson said.

In order to monitor and reduce introduced Canada goose populations, Greenways is suggesting the city advocate at the upcoming Association of Vancouver Island and Coastal Communities (AVICC) workshop for a regional program that would bring together stakeholders to develop and implement long-term, evidence-based management actions.

The environmental organization also recommends the designation of a Wildlife Management Area in the Campbell River Estuary to examine and identify issues before ecological damage occurs, bring additional resources in to the community to manage the estuary, and continue the work to restore and care for the estuary.

Banding by the numbers

n 200 geese collared

n 831 sightings of collared birds (as of January, 2017)

n 180, or 90 per cent, birds re-sighted

n 17 harvested by hunters

n 5 otherwise deceased

n 29 sighted in the U.S.

n 51 returned to Campbell River in the summer of 2016

n 885 km – furthest distance migration (Cave Junction, Ore.)

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Internet famous Yukon-based bhangra dancer explores Vancouver Island

Gurdeep Pandher spreads joy through dance, forms cross-cultural connections amid pandemic

Oyster River department battles Black Creek house fire

UPDATED: House suffers extensive damage, no one inside at time

Campbell River fruit tree project carries on despite pandemic

More volunteers wanted for Greenways’ initiative

Downtown storm drain repair will begin on August 10 in Campbell River

Starting Monday, drivers and pedestrians will expect minor delays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m

What does the nearly $10 million RCMP contract get the people of Campbell River?

Despite discussion around police funding, response techniques and use of force, the… Continue reading

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Missing teen visiting Courtenay found safe

She had last been seen going for a walk on Aug. 6

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

U’mista Cultural Centre will host a native art contest to raise funds for artists

All artists of Kwakwa̱ka̱’wakw descent are being called to participate in the contest to be held on August 28

VIDEO: U.S. Air Force pilot does fly-by for B.C. son amid COVID border separation

Sky-high father-son visit plays out over White Rock Pier

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

Most Read