A common, seemingly harmless pastime for young and old alike could be hurting wildlife in the area.
The National Capital Commission, along with the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, announced a partnership with Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service Monday to launch a campaign to stop residents from feeding the wildfowl, among other initiatives, in order to keep the Canada goose population from congregating on the shores of the Ottawa River.
The Help Keep Wildlife Wild! goose management campaign provides the public with information about the growing goose population in the area's urban parks.
Many parks in Canada's Capital Region -- including Andrew Haydon Park, Mooney's Bay and Petrie Island beaches in Ottawa; Moussette Park in Gatineau; and the land along the Ottawa River between the Canadian War Museum and Mud Lake -- are inundated with geese, gulls, ducks and pigeons.
"This campaign educates the public on how feeding birds can create problems," said Marc Corriveau, the NCC's director of Urban Lands and Transportation. "This promotes more natural geese habitats and reduces the population of geese.
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"This is a first step toward a long-term goal to live in harmony with the goose population on urban lands in the National Capital Region."
Feeding birds can be detrimental to their health, as it often leads to dietary and nutritional problems. The congregation of birds also creates overpopulation problems, and leads to habitat degradation and animals being killed by motorists.
The campaign includes an information flyer to be distributed to residents and visitors, no bird feeding signs, the implementation of environmentally friendly pilot projects and the use of trained border collies without harming the birds.
The NCC is also modifying the birds' habitat to discourage them from congregating.
The NCC has stopped cutting the grass between the War Museum and Mud Lake regularly and is growing shrubs as natural barriers so the birds are cannot easily see the Ottawa River, said Mario Fournier, manager of urban lands and transportation for the NCC.