Geese-crossing signs recently attached to lamp posts along 16 Avenue in South Surrey were not authorized or installed by the City and Surrey, and are likely to be removed “in the near future.”
The large yellow, diamond-shaped signs popped up recently along the busy corridor, just west of 152 Street near Southmere Village Park. The park is home to a growing population of Canada geese, which has caused many of the water fowl to leave the park’s pond in search of food – often taking them across busy 16 Avenue.
Surrey’s manager of parks Neal Aven told Peace Arch News this week that, while the city is aware that geese are prevalent at the park, “the signs were installed without authorization… by an unknown third party.” The city’s engineering department was recently alerted to them, he noted.
“Staff are reviewing this and will likely remove the signs in the near future since they are non-standard and not appropriate in this location,” Aven said.
Neighbours have reported seeing numerous instances of the geese causing what one resident, Kevin Costello, called “potentially dangerous traffic situations” with drivers trying to avoid hitting the birds as they make their way into White Rock, where groups are often seen on the lawns of nearby properties.
Last month, Tino Fluckiger told PAN that he witnessed a young cyclist stop abruptly in order to stop traffic for the geese to get across 16 Avenue, which caused an impatient driver to pull into oncoming traffic to pass the cyclist and Fluckiger, who was in the car ahead.
“He sped around me very unsafely, and he could have easily hit the boy on the bike, he could have wiped out some geese… he could have had an accident with another motor vehicle,” he said at the time.
Drivers are “jamming on the brakes to avoid hitting them … or swerving to go around them.. some people are actually jumping out of their cars to try and hurry the geese along,” Costello wrote in an email to PAN.
“Besides being aggressive, and territorial especially some of the larger males … they are leaving a hell of a mess as you can imagine.”
Costello said he is left to wonder if anyone is managing the population of the migratory birds, which, he noted appear to have it too good at the South Surrey park to leave, and instead are becoming “more than a nuisance.”
Aven said that parks department staff frequently visit the park – up to three times a week – to keep the pathways clear of goose droppings and other debris, and that proper city-sanctioned crossing signs may be installed in the future.
“The city has recently completed Biodiversity Design Guidelines, which includes considerations for wildlife crossings. The Biodiversity Design Guidelines will be used by city staff to determine appropriate locations for this type of signage throughout the city,” Aven said.
“Exact sign locations will be determined through the consistent application of multiple factors to ensure that ‘Wildlife Crossing’ signs are installed where road users have a reasonable expectation of encountering wildlife so as to ensure drivers remain attentive when encountering these signs across the city.”
With regard to the growing number of geese in the area, Aven said that the city does not actively manage wildlife populations – it falls under provincial and federal jurisdiction – and as such, “no further management actions are planned at the park, though we continue to review options.”