Balancing wildlife and recreation at Chinook Golf Course

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I am fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful spots in Swift Current, overlooking the 16th hole of the Chinook Golf Course. I used to see deer, beaver and geese right outside my window. Unfortunately the beavers have been shot out of Horseshoe Lake in front of my home because they are considered pests and the geese are diminishing every year. Why? Because the golf course personnel are removing and destroying the eggs.

On two separate occasions, May 17th and May 24th, I witnessed staff searching the banks of the lake and the creek for goose nests. I spoke to one of the employees who affirmed that they were looking for goose nests and that the eggs would be destroyed to keep the numbers down. For the third year in a row we have made efforts to stop the destruction of goose eggs.

I decided that most of Swift Current does not know the efforts the Chinook Golf Course makes to keep the numbers down. We realize that a balance must be kept but for the past several years we have noticed fewer and fewer adult geese returning to the course and fewer chicks are hatching. Some pairs did not have any goslings last year and this year I have only seen a clutch of one and a clutch of two goslings. We were told the geese are left with at least one egg so that they do not re-set and come out with a larger clutch later. The eggs are oiled so that they can not hatch. Oiling the eggs at this late date seems extremely cruel because the goslings are about to hatch. The superintendant of the course confirmed that last year they took 50 eggs from the nests and this year 40.

It is our belief that there are diminishing numbers because many of the geese are not returning to this site to nest. Is that because their eggs are getting destroyed? This is our concern.

I have contacted T.I.P.S and the local conservation officer who then had the Wildlife Enforcement Division of the Canadian Wildlife Services call me. What I learned was that the Chinook Golf Course has all of the required permits to destroy goose eggs. I was told that the long term goal was probably to eradicate nesting on the course all together. We then talked to the superintendant of the Chinook Golf Course, who stated that it has never been his goal to eradicate all of the geese. He also said he only tries to maintain a balance so the course is not over run with geese - to keep the golfers happy - so revenue is not affected. As we see pairs of geese, all but two thus far, with no young, one must wonder if the attempt to “balance” numbers has now tipped the scale out of balance. How do these measures affect firstly, the geese and surrounding ecosystem, as well as those who enjoy the geese while walking along the pathway or those of us who live along the course and get so much joy out of watching the geese raise their goslings? Just because there is a permit do we have to accept it without complaint?

I am excited every March 14th because that is the day the geese come back. A welcome sign of spring in Saskatchewan. I watch carefully in May to see the new chicks paraded around by their protective mothers. Yesterday was the first hatch that I saw. One chick. Evidence that the rest of that nest was taken. I gather that golfers are not thrilled with having to walk in some goose poo when they are putting but we need to maintain some nature too. We have a beautiful walking path and a lake which invited the geese and the beavers in. For most of us seeing some wildlife is the height of our walks along the path.

I am frustrated to tears each year when I watch the goose eggs being destroyed and I thought that the rest of you would like to know what is going on. I hope that if you are a golfer you realize that golf is just a game and the environment is here for all of us to enjoy.

If you are as concerned as I am about the diminishing geese please give the Chinook Golf Course a call and talk to the superintendant of the course at 306-778-2756 or call: the local Conservation office at 306-778-8205; the Wildlife Enforcement Division of the Canadian Wildlife Services at 1-306-203-4745; or call John Dunlop the permit Officer who decides on the permits at 1-306-975-4090.

Jacqui Popick - Swift Current

Geographic location: Swift Current, Saskatchewan

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