November 27, 2021

cruciforme

travel, Always a step ahead

Protest greets volunteer egg-addling effort in Silver Lake Park

Some protesters were opposed to the method used to impede development of the eggs, and others were upset that any effort was being done in an attempt to manage the goose population.

“We spent many years making this their home,” said Megan Mathis, who recalled years of visiting the park to see goslings after they hatched.

She said she was upset that geese would be removed from their nests so that oil could be applied to the eggs to keep them from hatching.

“They are mothers like anyone else,” she said.

RELATED: Nine things to know about goose-egg addling in Rochester parks

Minutes later, a group of four volunteers approached the first nest of the day. As one volunteer approached the nest, the goose left without being touched and lingered close by with its mate.

The volunteers used a float test to ensure all the eggs hadn’t reached the 14th day of incubation, then the eggs were oiled and replaced for the goose to return.

The process continued throughout the morning.

By the fifth nest of the day, Rochester Park Board member Dick Dale, who had been skeptical of the plan, joined volunteers.

“I feel more comfortable,” he said, pointing to the lack of interaction with the geese and how the eggs were tested.

The process wasn’t enough to convince others, however.

Greg Munson, retired director of Quarry Hill Nature Center, was among opponents of the effort, based on the decision to oil the eggs. .

“I consider that in itself a very inhumane process,” he said.

“There was an easy alternative,” he added, referring to a plan to take eggs from the nest and replace them with ceramic ones.

Paul Widman, Rochester’s parks and recreation director, said the city did have some ceramic eggs on hand to give volunteers an option, but replacing all the eggs would not be possible. Additional ceramic eggs are on back order, he said.

“I know a lot of people disagree with what we are doing, and I’m not going to change any minds,” he said, adding that the intent was to treat as many eggs as possible in four city parks to better control the goose population.

“We’ll never get to 100% of the eggs,” he said, noting that nests would likely be missed and others are on private property outside the parks.

Tom Keefe demonstrates the goose egg sinking in a bucket of water signifying it's age Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021, at Silver Lake as they start a process of oiling Canada Goose eggs to reduce the goose population. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

Tom Keefe demonstrates the goose egg sinking in a bucket of water signifying it’s age Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021, at Silver Lake as they start a process of oiling Canada Goose eggs to reduce the goose population. (Ken Klotzbach / [email protected])

Laura Settle, the volunteer coordinator for Wednesday’s effort, said 65 nests were found in the park.

She and Widman went out to scout some nests earlier in the week, checking on egg development.

“We were curious about how long they were in the process,” she said, adding that if the eggs would have been more than 13 days into incubation, the event would have been called off.

Tom Keefe, president of Canada Goose Management Inc., said the local nesting season is just starting, which was shown by the volunteers’ discovery of two eggs in the third nest they visited Wednesday.

“I suspect she is still laying eggs,” he said of the goose that returned to the nest as volunteers walked away after treating the two eggs. A Canada goose typically lays two to nine eggs each season.

Keefe, who conducts similar efforts in the metro area, said he typically returns to nests three weeks after oiling to remove eggs that don’t hatch. He said nests are routinely left in place, since they deteriorate naturally and geese will build new ones next season.

Greg Munson, right, confronts Laura Settle Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021, at Silver Lake as Settle and others start a process of oiling Canada Goose eggs to reduce the goose population. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

Greg Munson, right, confronts Laura Settle Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021, at Silver Lake as Settle and others start a process of oiling Canada Goose eggs to reduce the goose population. (Ken Klotzbach / [email protected])

Settle said three eggs found Wednesday were not treated after testing showed 14 days of incubation or more, and they were returned to the nests to hatch.

Widman said another 23 eggs across nine nests on the Silver Lake island were not treated, and those nests had four or fewer eggs apiece, so more eggs could be laid in those nests. With other nests in similar conditions, he estimated another 48 to 96 eggs could still be laid and hatched in the park.

While the egg-addling process used is supported by the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, it didn’t deter protests.

Bob Dick, another park neighbor, said using Humane Society and PETA guidelines doesn’t mean oiling eggs should be acceptable.

“Doctors used to put leeches on people, and I don’t think they do that anymore,” he said Wednesday as Widman attempted to provide answers to protesters’ questions. “Just because you have a guideline doesn’t make it right.”

Tom Keefe demonstrates the goose egg sinking in a bucket of water signifying it's age Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021, at Silver Lake as they start a process of oiling Canada Goose eggs to reduce the goose population. (Ken Klotzbach / kklotzbach@postbulletin.com)

Tom Keefe demonstrates the goose egg sinking in a bucket of water signifying it’s age Wednesday morning, April 14, 2021, at Silver Lake as they start a process of oiling Canada Goose eggs to reduce the goose population. (Ken Klotzbach / [email protected])

Karen Drews Munoz, who said she walks in the park at least twice a week, was another protester who said the city has gone too far, especially after scaling back efforts to pick up trash and provide containers for dog waste.

“They make (the geese) the scapegoats since they can’t keep this park up,” she said, adding that the goose population appears to have declined in recent years.

“There are fewer geese than there ever have been,” she said.

The annual Christmas Bird Count conducted by the Zumbro Valley Audubon Society found 5,405 geese in Rochester last year, which was down from an eight-year high of 9,884 in 2017.

Egg addling is expected to continue in three other city parks within the next week. Keefe will head a team under a $1,800 contract to treat eggs in Foster Arend and Soldiers Field parks, while volunteers will continue their work in Cascade Lake Park.

As the work continues., Rochester Park Board member Angela Gupta has initiated an online poll to gauge public views related to the geese and management practices.

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