Do you live in a town or village? Do you have a local pond? I bet it’s got Canada Geese on it, hasn’t it? Do you gather a great deal of pleasure from going down to the pond and throwing bread at their big, stupid honking faces? No, I thought not. Because, of course, you are a thoroughly ecologically literate person, yes? And if you are not, well, take my word for it – Canada Geese are just the worst.
Take a trip down to that local pond of yours this afternoon and you might ask yourself, just why is the water that colour? Why is there so little plant life in the water? And how the hell did I find myself slipping over and falling face first into the pond only to find myself assailed by indignant swans? Blame the Geese. That’s what I usually do. Canada Geese, you see, have the rather remarkable ability to poo about once every six minutes, so much plant matter do they need to consume. Imagine that? Well, ok, don’t imagine it. Especially if it’s lunchtime. OK, consider the ramifications of that. Not only do they denude ponds of vegetation, but they then nutrient load the water so highly that algal blooms are about the only thing that can survive. Think of the knock-on effect this might have on other wildlife.
How do we deal with it? Well, if you’re a little out of the way, you can shoot them, but in more urban areas (where public opinion and understanding may not be entirely on your side) egg pricking, or smothering the eggs with paraffin helps to reduce their stunning fecundity. I did have an idea about running a ‘grab a goose’ day on my particular patch the other month, but given the glowing comments volunteers have given me about how much they enjoy seeing the Egyptian Geese and even the terrapins, (yes, the bloody terrapins!) I can’t imagine this would go down overly well.
I’m not the first to suggest eating invasives to tackle the problem (and recently, the Guardian argued against this, though using Lionfish as an example). But previous articles about eating Canada Geese have perhaps (DAILY MAIL LINK ALERT) not been couched in the most persuasive of terms – oh lordy, just read that and you might realise why both the Daily Mail and the hunting fraternity (or what people assume is the hunting fraternity) are so hated in some quarters…‘A Baronet acquaintance of mine’ indeed.
Eating Canada Geese, though? Maybe that could work. Of course I would not encourage you to nip down to the pond under the cover of dark and try and snatch one. Absolutely not. I absolutely wouldn’t suggest that, should you be struggling to make ends meet, or are just naturally curious, then Geese represent a readily available source of free protein that with just a little bit of effort could feed a family for days. Neither should the fact that I’m linking to sites giving tips and recipes for geese convince you that I would advise it. But just in case my effusive insistence that you do not go out and catch yourself a Canada Goose is not enough to deter you, I would direct you to the relevant legislation and license requirements for such an endeavour.