Plenty of people are outraged by the City of Kitchener, Ont.’s approach to handling its goose population in a downtown park.

But Kitchener isn’t doing anything different than plenty of other municipalities that are trying to handle the presence of the honking birds in urban parks.

The city, located about 110 kilometres west of Toronto, has hired a contractor to collect goose eggs in Victoria Park and dispose of them in a landfill during the nesting season from March to May.

Growing populations of geese have been an issue in southern Ontario for several decades. Some see them as noisy, messy creatures with insatiable appetites.

City staff say they receive complaints about territorial birds trying to protect their nests by chasing people and pets who get too close. That’s a liability for the city, so it has a permit from Canadian Wildlife Services to cull the eggs and relocate adult birds.

The program costs about $10,000 a year.

Several cities use these methods, and others, including oiling the eggs to prevent them from hatching and using dogs, drones, lasers and pyrotechnics, to scare geese off.

Kitchener’s goose control program has been in place since 2007, when the downtown park was home to between 300 and 500 geese. Last year, it was estimated that Victoria Park, which sits on a man-made lake, contained about 200 geese.

At the time the eggs are collected, there are no birds inside, but animal advocates say that doesn’t matter.

“These will become baby geese and you are forcibly taking that away from a mother and a father,” Ben King, a director with animal advocacy group KW Animal Save, told CTV Kitchener.

He calls the city’s practices “unacceptable,” saying his experiences in the park suggest it doesn’t have a serious problem with goose overpopulation.

“We’ve built so much on top of where these geese used to live. They need somewhere to be, and yet we … just kill the unborn baby eggs.”

He also takes issue with relocating geese, calling it a “waste of taxpayers’ money” given they could always return on their own. Typically, Canadian geese return to breed at the site where they learned to fly, and pairs nest in the same spot each year.

“These geese fly thousands of miles away every year, and come right back to this spot because this is their home,” King said.

But Vernon Thomas, an associate professor emeritus in the University of Guelph’s integrative biology department, says practices like those undertaken in Victoria Park are common in areas with goose issues, and are humane.

“Where there’s a problem of overpopulation, a means to control it could be the removing of eggs,” he said in an interview with CTV Kitchener.

“It has been happening for several decades in a number of jurisdictions in Ontario.”

An online petition calling for an end to the program in Kitchener had close to 700 signatures by Saturday afternoon.

“What has stunned and disgusted residents the most is the horrifying reality that fertilized eggs are being torn from the adults’ nests. Canada geese work as bonded pairs to raise their young. The destruction of their eggs creates stress and trauma for the adult birds,” wrote petition organizer Kelley Bruce Miller.

“As a taxpayer, I do not approve of my hard-earned money being spent on the senseless killing of baby animals.”

Plenty of petition commenters agreed, with many calling the practice “disgusting.”

Sandra Dalpe of nearby Waterloo, Ont. said the goslings are one of the main attractions of Victoria Park and should be left alone.

“This is cruel and barbaric. Geese are causing no harm to anyone or anything…Geese are protective, love their babies and are sweet creatures when left alone to raise their young. They bring vibrancy and life to areas they decide to stay in, and we should not be destroying these creatures lives,” wrote Hayley Lacroix of Mississauga.

Canada geese are not classified as pest birds, so any city, golf course, resort or other property owner must get a licence through Canadian Wildlife Services to manage them.

-With files from CTV Kitchener