The Roundups: Banding and Collaring 200 Canada Geese in Nanaimo, BC, 2016
Near the end of June, 2016, VIU faculty and students, Nanaimo City staff, and intrepid volunteers banded and collared 200 Canada geese in various locations around Nanaimo. The first roundup took place at Westwood Lake, followed by Hammond Bay on the same day; the next morning, geese were rounded up at Departure Bay; the final roundup occurred in the Nanaimo River Estuary, courtesy of the Living Forest Campground who provided access.
June 23rd, Roundup #1: Westwood Lake
There were relatively few geese at this site. However, the City wanted them removed from the lake to prevent fouling of the beaches. For the most part, these geese were familiar with people and cooperated with being herded. A small motorized boat, a canoe, and a kayak were used to direct the geese towards the beach. Once there, they happily ate a trail of bread leading them into the pen.
Once captured, each goose received its own unique plastic neck collar and a metal leg band, which was attached to the right leg
Some had not yet moulted and could still fly, so a few got away
Three juvenile geese were not yet big enough to fit the collars
At the end of the first roundup, 13 geese were banded and collared (001P – 013P)
After each had received its band and collar, the Westwood Lake geese were loaded into a waiting truck, and relocated to Cottle Lake in Linley Valley Park
June 23rd, Roundup #2: Hammond Bay
After the Westwood Lake roundup, the goose crew packed up and relocated to Morningside Park in Hammond Bay. Here a kayak and canoe were used to direct the geese towards the beach. Although not quite as cooperative as the Westwood flock, these geese were herded into the pen fairly easily. During this process, an unwelcoming squall passed through the area. Due to the high winds and driving rain, few pictures were captured during this roundup.
At the end of it all, 37 geese were banded, collared, and released back to Hammond Bay (014P – 050P)
June 24th, Roundup #3: Departure Bay
The third roundup occurred the following morning in Departure Bay. Due to the open nature of Departure Bay, two motorboats were used to herd the geese from either side. Once congregated, volunteers in a kayak and a canoe joined in and helped herd the geese and direct them toward the pen. The majority of the geese at this location cooperated nicely; however, there were several that were not as habituated to humans as the rest and managed to escape our herding efforts.
Dipnets were used to single out each goose for banding
Once caught they awaited their turn, and were banded and placed in a separate holding pen (seen in the background)
At each roundup, the geese were released together to reduce the chance of an eagle attack
Fifty-nine geese were successfully banded and collared during this roundup, bringing the total to 109 geese (051P – 109P)
June 27th, Roundup #4: Nanaimo River Estuary
This roundup was our most successful, but also our most challenging. For the most part, the geese at this site were less domesticated than the geese in the urban areas. They scattered at first sight of our boats approaching, even when hundreds of metres away! It was assumed that once they were pushed into a group they would swim nicely up the river channels towards the pen. However, they repeatedly tried to leave the water and run across the marsh to escape. Luckily, some strategically placed volunteers along the riverbanks prevented their exit. Once at the pen it took much patience and coaxing to get them to enter. They even made a couple of surging attempts to break out between the boats containing them. In the end, they cooperated, and approximately 120 were caught.
With the geese finally in the pen, the crew got down to work banding and collaring
In the end, more than enough geese were captured to use up the 200th band and collar. Ninety-one geese were banded (110P – 199P, and 000P) and the remainder were released without bands
For this roundup, the geese were released in groups of approximately 15-20 to minimize crowding and stress
Goose number 200 (000P): mission complete!
In 2017, we managed to band and collar another 200 geese (series 201P – 400P), and we banded an additional 100 geese with leg bands only (300 geese total). The roundups occurred as follows:
- June 24: Oar Road (Lantzville). Collars 201P – 275P, 281P – 283P, 286P, 291P – 300P (*there was a mixup with the collar order during this roundup, which is why some collars in the sequence were missed), and 6 juveniles. Bands were placed on the left leg of juveniles to distinguish them from adult geese which were banded on their right leg. Also recaptured was goose 031P, which was banded in Hammond Bay in June 2016.
- June 25: Nanaimo River Estuary. Collars 301P – 363P, and 36 juveniles (banded on their left leg). Also recaptured were geese 112P, 132P, 136P, 145P, 151P, 153P, 160P, 163P, 164P, 169P, 170P, 173P, 179P, 185P, 198P, all of which were banded in the same location in 2016.
- June 30: Newcastle Island. Collars 276P – 280P, 284P, 285P, 287P – 290P, 364P – 400P, and 18 juveniles (banded on their left leg). Also recaptured were geese 061P and 103P, banded in Departure Bay in 2016, and goose 144P, which was banded at the Nanaimo River Estuary in 2016.
Thank-you to Nanaimo City staff and volunteers for helping out. We couldn’t have done it without you!