Canada geese 'should be culled and fed to well-heeled foodies'

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The Independent Online

Britain's exploding population of Canada geese should be culled and fed to "urban, well-heeled foodies" as a new gourmet dish, an expert has said.

Writing in The Field, the bible of field sports enthusiasts, Clive Gammon said the population had grown from 3,900 in the early Fifties to about 90,000 and it was time to take action to stop public parks being covered by their faeces.

"The habitat destruction they cause, the health threat they pose, especially to children, and the strong chance of their causing a catastrophic air crash means that something has to be done about the Canada population," the angling expert said. "Three obvious ways to control it are: by changing their habitat; by control of eggs in the breeding season; and by shotgun."

Mr Gammon said there would be opposition to any cull from councils that were worried about losing the votes of the "Bambi generation – people whose ideas have been skewed by anthropomorphism absorbed from childhood". But he proposed a national culling programme that would provide a "bonus" in a supply of their meat, which is less fatty than that of domestic geese.

"Canada geese make gourmet eating – just the breasts, of course – cooked fast under a high grill as you might a beefsteak. And they taste like rare roast beef. Now there's a thought. Convince our urban, well-heeled foodies that Canada goose breasts are the new Aberdeen Angus fillet steak and they'd be queuing up in Harrods food hall to pay the earth for them. After that the law of supply and demand would see to the problem."

Canada geese have long been regarded as a nuisance in public parks, and their population explosion is seen as a threat to aircraft around Heathrow airport. Park authorities have called for a cull of the birds, which were introduced to Britain in the 17th century, but have met opposition from animal rights groups. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said Canada geese posed no threat to native British birds, but recognised they caused problems in parks and could be a danger to air traffic. It supported the Wildlife and Countryside Act regulation that all humane methods of population control should be tried before culling was adopted. Shooting would be an impractical way to cull because the birds lived in places such as public parks, where shooting would be "inappropriate".

The Canada Geese Conservation Society, based in Walthamstow, north-east London, opposes a cull because the birds mate for life and can pine to death if a partner is killed.

In April, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch warned that Canadageese posed a threat to twin-engined aircraft. It wasreporting on a 1998 incident when a flock of geese flew into a jet landing at Heathrow airport.

The National Union of Farmers said there was no evidence that farmers would support a mass cull, although the birds did cause problems by eating crops on farms near large tracts of water.