By Lyonel Doherty
If you’ve noticed fewer geese in Oliver and Osoyoos, it is likely the result of 13 years of egg addling in the Okanagan.
The long-term Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program has prevented the 2,500 population from getting out of control, according to officials.
In 13 years, more than 17,000 eggs have been addled, which equates to an estimated 10,000 to 13,000 geese not entering the population.
The comprehensive program, which communities pay into, tries to find a balance between people and nesting geese.
Coordinator Kate Hagmeier reminds people that management actions are targeting geese that are not native to the region.
She explained these birds are hybrid offspring of several different subspecies of Canada Geese that were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. (Geese from elsewhere in Canada and the U.S. were moved here as part of managed introduction programs.)
Hagmeier said egg addling is a critical component of population management, noting it is the most minimally invasive form of population control.
Addling involves shaking eggs or coating them with non-toxic biodegradable food-grade corn oil within 14 days of incubation to make them non-viable. Once addled, eggs are returned to the nest, where geese continue to incubate until they realize the eggs will not hatch. By then, it is generally too late in the year to produce more eggs. Adults are not harmed and will continue with their regular life cycle.
Egg addling and nest surveys are not perfect because sometimes nests are not found or they could be in dangerous locations or on private property.
Therefore, the public is asked to report lone geese, pairs of geese or nest locations on private or public land by emailing email@example.com by calling 1-877-943-3209.
This year is unique since program workers must practise public health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They cannot access nests in areas that do not allow for physical distancing, such as care residences, hospital environments or apartment patios. As a result, they can only record the location data for future years.
Hagmeier said geese will lay on anything that they perceive as an “island.” So, buildings that are close to water can host nesting geese.
“We have had them on roofs of buildings, balconies, decks, docks of residential, commercial and medical buildings.”