Sundridge council debates least controversial way to rid waterfront geese

·3 min read

Sundridge council is directing municipal staff to come up with options to deal with a chronic goose problem involving waterfront land.

Coun. Fraser Williamson raised the issue saying in the short time he has lived in the community, the issue of geese on people's lakefront properties seems to be getting worse.

The lakefront homes run adjacent to the publicly owned waterfront in front of Bernard Lake.

However, Coun. Steve Hicks pointed out how a municipality would deal with geese or other wildlife in a public area is different from how one addresses the issue on private land.

Hicks asked if there was a precedent for a municipality dealing with unwanted animals on private property, but no one had an answer.

Williamson said when he grew up on a farm, there were times of the year when hunters would tackle the goose problem because they were damaging crops or going after the smaller farm animals.

However, in the case of Sundridge, the worst the geese appear to be doing is damaging people's gardens.

Several suggestions were made but most were dismissed.

Williamson noted that tying a pie plate to a string to create noise to frighten the birds is mildly effective because the geese just walk to areas where there are no pie plates attached to strings.

Mayor Lyle Hall said one technique is to have harmless explosive charges that go off periodically and the geese are scared off by the loud bang.

“It scares them but it's not very soothing for the neighbourhood,” Hall said. “Plus, the geese get used to it.”

Hall said he recalled that in 2015, there was a suggestion to allow dogs at the public waterfront and they would chase the birds off.

With no birds left congregating at the public waterfront, that meant no geese wandering onto people's properties adjacent to the waterfront along Main Street.

Hall said the idea was never acted upon but couldn't remember why.

He also said a cull has potential but cautioned where the village would stand legally on having the birds killed or how a municipality would even go about organizing such an activity.

The cull suggestion did not sit well with Hicks, who said it could result in a negative headline like 'Northern Ontario town kills hundreds of Canada Geese.”

Coun. Barbara Belrose recalled another suggestion where nets were used to catch the geese but that didn't go over very well.

Council later revisited the idea of allowing dogs at the waterfront.

“Maybe the dogs are an effective solution,” Hicks said. “It's not too expensive and in a year or two, the geese will figure it out and go somewhere else. It won't be a super quick fix but a gradual one.”

Hicks added there are people who just don't want dogs at the publicly owned waterfront “and we'll be hearing from them, but I'm not afraid of trying.”

Belrose agreed the dog idea was “worth a shot.”

Council also said it could mitigate the dog poop that would show up at the beach with a container and dog waste bag, and it would expect members of the public to pick up after their dog did its thing.

Like Hicks, Hall also is expecting public backlash for the idea.

“It's going to be an issue where not everyone is going to be happy,” the mayor said.

“It's nice to see nature (the geese) walking around. But on the beach shore, or your backyard or garden is not something an individual would like.”

It's now up to staff to come back with options council can further discuss at a future meeting.

Rocco Frangione is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the North Bay Nugget. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Rocco Frangione, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Bay Nugget

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