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Limiting the population of geese – and their damage – is paying off in Rochester

ROCHESTER – The city of Rochester’s efforts to control the local goose population – and their poop – seem to be working faster than expected.

Rochester parks officials say there are significantly fewer goose eggs in city parks this spring compared to 2021 after volunteers and a private company hired by the city tackled goose nests. goose last year.

Last year, city employees and volunteers treated goose eggs with corn oil in 75 nests in Silver Lake Park and Cascade Lake, two of four parks targeted to eliminate geese. No nests were found in Soldiers Memorial Field and Foster-Arend parks.

So far, park officials have found about 18 nests to deal with in Silver Lake Park this spring, compared to 65 nests there in 2021. No nests have been found in the other three parks. The Rochester City Council recently added the Quarry Hill Nature Center to the city’s goose management program, but staff found only two nests there.

The efforts come after years of complaints about the amount of goose droppings at Silver Lake and other nearby parks. Foster-Arend and Cascade Lake beaches have been closed in the past due to fecal contamination of the water, and residents regularly complain about the amount of poop covering public pathways, shelters, areas picnic and playground equipment.

Rochester officials have changed the way they mix eggs or force them to rot after a number of residents protested the city’s management efforts last year. Workers and volunteers used corn oil to coat the eggs, preventing them from fully hatching by cutting off their oxygen supply, which some have disputed. Public outcry prompted Sen. Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, to call for a moratorium on the practice.

Paul Widman, director of parks and recreation for Rochester, said this year the city is replacing live eggs with ceramic eggs so the geese no longer lay, but both methods are touted as best practices by the Humane Society the United States.

“They don’t recommend one above the other, but since residents were keen to look at the ceramic eggs, we went ahead and went that route this year,” Widman said.

The city aims to process the eggs within 14 days of gestation, as the embryos have not fully developed inside. The eggs are destroyed and discarded after being mixed.

Greg Munson, former manager of Quarry Hills and co-founder of Friends of Silver Lake, was among the locals who protested the egg oil. He was worried about how the oil destroyed goose embryos and felt it was better to use ceramic eggs because a goose egg does not turn into an embryo unless there is have geese to keep him warm.

“It’s a pretty humane way to do it,” Munson said.

Observers say the effort has already reduced the number of geese in the area, although an official survey has yet to be done. Munson said residents would typically spot about 200 to 300 goslings at Silver Lake, but this year he’s only seen about 25 to 30.

Widman estimates geese are still building four or five nests in Silver Lake, but the city likely won’t address those nests. While the city wants to aggressively tackle the goose population, he said the goal isn’t to eliminate geese from the area, just to control their numbers.

“This process is going to take several years,” Widman said.

Rochester has had geese year-round for decades, starting when Dr. Charles Mayo purchased 15 geese to live at the Mayowood Estate. A series of infrastructure and technological upgrades to the area’s waterways over the years have created conditions for geese to remain year-round in Rochester.

The geese stay around Silver Lake in particular, which has caused problems in the past. Rochester officials estimate that about 40,000 geese remained at Silver Lake during the migration season in the mid-2000s. The city removed the feeding troughs in 2007 and installed vegetation buffers around the lake to reduce the conflicts between residents and geese.

Munson said residents he spoke with are glad the geese haven’t covered the park as much in recent years, but they still hope the geese will stay in the area.

“We want people to really enjoy the park, and too many geese don’t lend themselves well to that,” Munson said.

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