Cultus Lake Park Board is looking at new idea to tackle its goose management problem.

Cultus Lake Park Board is looking at new idea to tackle its goose management problem.

Call for dogs to help control geese at Cultus Lake

Cultus Lake Park Board is still on the hunt for a good goose management strategy.

Cultus Lake Park Board is still on the hunt for a good goose management strategy.

The resident population of Canada geese has increased in recent years at the lake, which means substantially more unappealing goose poop on the beaches.

Lake resident Max Newhouse presented a proposal to the park board on July 27 that would see a handler and a trained border collie used to keep the geese at bay.

The Cultus Lake artist told The Progress he often counts the geese, as he’s on the beach quite often.

Sometimes there are 10, or 100 geese around. Other times there are as many as 300 at a time.

Park Board officials started looking into their goose management options last year, studying raking equipment and vacuum type machines to keep the beaches clean.

At the time, board chair Sacha Peter cited the growing numbers of geese, and the potential public health threat posed by the feces as part of the incentive for them to find solutions at Cultus Lake.

It could migrate from being an annoyance to a health issue, Peter said, and some Okanagan beaches were closed in the past because of high fecal counts in the water.

“There’s no quick fix with this one,” said Newhouse. “The geese are very persistent and very clever.”

He’d prefer not to see the geese culled, nor does he want to shake eggs, among the techniques employed by others.

“I’d like to see us cut down the population in a gentler and greener way.”

Newhouse started researching the goose problem being faced by so many other communities across the globe.

“The northern hemisphere has become overpopulated with the Canada geese, which is what Canada has now became famous for as well.”

He searched the world over for anyone trying to employ trained dogs for geese control, only to find a local expert nearby in Abbotsford who tackled the problem at Mill Lake with a geese team, as well as another expert out at the Vancouver Airport.

“The whole world is working on this problem.”

Park board officials recently voted to contact the expert in Abbotsford about the issue, as well as making it a bylaw contravention to feed wildlife in Cultus Lake Park.

“We’re investigating more options,” said Park Board chair Bob McCrea.

His understanding is that the goose feces problem is more unsightly, than it is a public health concern.

“We hope to have more to report at the first meeting in September,” he said.

McCrea said he personally he thinks the border collies are an incredible breed, the way they expertly herd other animals.

“They just love to herd. They live to herd.”

It probably works well in terms of controlling geese because the border collies don’t bark at their charges when they’re in herd mode, offered Newhouse.

“They crouch down like a predator and move forward, advancing on them in an intimidating manner.”

He doesn’t think shooing them works, or waving arms in the air, as well as letting dogs do their thing.

So far the response to the trained dog idea has been positive, said Newhouse.

“This is not something that has to be done right away. But it’s a good idea.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

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