Last updated: 23 March 2012
The Canada goose is a common and easily recognised goose with a distinctive black head, long neck, and large white throat patch. It usually gathers in flocks. It was introduced as an ornamental bird in the 17th century, but restricted to only a few areas of the UK until the middle of the 20th century. Numbers increased markedly from this point. This was greatly helped by the deliberate introduction of birds into new habitats during the 1950s and 1960s.
It can and does cause major damage to amenity grasslands, pastures and crops through grazing and trampling. Droppings can be a health and safety risk to humans, both through ingestion but also causing slippery conditions. Ecological impact includes damage to other wildlife (such as trampling other bird nests) and destruction of waterside habitat, for example reedbeds. The birds also pose an airplane collision risk in many parts of the world.
Numbers vary depending on the time of year. There is a population of resident birds and their numbers are added to in winter and summer by additional birds looking to avoid hard winter conditions elsewhere or find summer grazing. In summer 2011 over 1100 birds were counted on the lake.
Management of Canada Geese has been carried out on Windermere in some form or other for nearly 20 years. In 2007 a group of science and conservation organisations and major landowners from around the lake formed the Windermere Geese Management Group. It was set up to tackle the problems resulting from the large increase in numbers.
The group have tried temporary fencing, permanent fencing, mechanical scarers and egg oiling to prevent eggs hatching. Despite all of this there are still large numbers of Canada geese causing problems.
The Windermere Geese Management Group met this week to discuss the proposed cull of Canada Geese on Windermere.
The group remains committed to the management of Canada Geese on Windermere as this invasive non-native species has a detrimental impact on the area including:
However, the group has always said that we would review and monitor our approach in response to developments, whilst also taking public concerns into consideration.
At a meeting on 20 March the group decided to defer the proposed cull, allowing them to fully explore newly presented options which have recently emerged.
While culling remains an option the group intends to meet with the organisations and individuals in the near future to discuss alternative approaches to management. Meanwhile, the group also intends to gather more evidence on the adverse impact of geese on land management, wildlife and visitor enjoyment.
Non-lethal control measures will continue to be used during 2012.
More details, figures and statistics can be found in:
This statement is made on behalf of the Windermere Geese Management Group, made up of:
All links open in a new window. It also includes ourselves, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (opens in new window) and major landowners from around the lake shore.