It’s not only human tourists that find Penticton a wonderful stopping ground.
Transient geese are also finding the city’s parks and beaches a perfect spot to take a break from their migratory travels, accounting for a massive increase in the amount of goose poop in some parks.
These are, said Jeff Lynka, Penticton’s parks manager, a different crowd from those that decided that Penticton is literally “the place to stay forever.”
“We don’t know exactly where the geese that are out there today are from, whether or not they are valley geese or they are passing through,” said Lynka. It’s not unusual, he continued, to see up to 200 geese in the parks at this time of year.
Those, however, aren’t the geese that were the subject of a roundup and relocation program in June. That program saw about 46 resident geese rounded up, tagged and relocated with their young to an area outside the city.
“Because they are nesting here in the valley, we refer to them as resident geese, they spend year round here,” said Lynka. “Those are the ones we were targeting as part of the study to determine whether or not those geese were here year round, or were they moving around out of the valley.”
The tagged geese have been tracked, and Lynka said about half the relocatees have returned to their old haunts.
“In that sense, I would consider it a success,” he said, adding that he anticipates they will continue the relocation program next year. “We are working with the ministry to locate other bodies of water further away from Penticton to see if that will help with the relocation success.”
However, the majority of the geese usually return to their nesting sites, so Lynka said relocation is only part of a solution, getting geese off Penticton’s popular beaches for a few weeks while the geese are moulting in the summer and during a critical period of the tourist season.
“Their flightless season is such a short time period, by the time you pick them up and move them, it is not long before they are flying again,” said Lynka, who said the egg addling program to reduce the numbers of geese will continue next year alongside relocation tactics.
Penticton is far from alone in dealing with the problem of Canada geese. Lynka said similar tactics are employed across North America and around the Okanagan.
“I think the challenges we see in Penticton are pretty consistent in the whole valley,” said Lynka, explaining that the universality of the problem is why Okanagan communities have banded together to develop a joint management plan. “The work that has been done to control the population is having a positive outcome valley wide.”
According to recent counts, there may be as many as 3,500 geese living in the valley.