Webinar presenter Lynsey White answered a number of your questions after her webinar, Solving Problems with Canada Geese. Here are just a few of her responses.
Audience Question: Do you have any resources for turkey?
Lynsey White: If you’re referring to wild turkeys, then yes! Please see our information online about solving problems with wild turkeys on our website: www.humanesociety.org/wildturkeys. We also have a recorded webinar called Resolving Roosting Bird Conflicts which discusses wild turkeys.
Audience Question: Are there any additional sources or resources for coyotes?
Lynsey White: Absolutely! If you go to www.humanesociety.org/coyotes, you will find a lot of great information about solving conflicts with coyotes, including fact sheets, a coyote conflict management plan, and an advocate toolkit. You can also find additional information on our website for professionals (www.humanepro.org/wildlife), including a recorded webinar on this topic.
Audience Question: Do these basic tactics also apply to other migratory birds like ducks and mallards? Specifically, does the float test also work for mallard duck eggs? So, could you kind of see, if can you explain how these might apply to other species?
Lynsey White:The information that I gave today about egg addling (including both procedures and federal and state regulations/requirements for addling) is specific to Canada Geese and therefore cannot and should not be applied to other species.
The research that led to the development of the float test that we recommend was performed on Canada goose eggs only, and therefore we can’t say for certain that it would apply to other species.
Audience Question: What about avian influenza in droppings? Can you get avian flu from goose droppings?
Lynsey White: The general public is at very little risk of catching avian influenza from Canada goose droppings that they encounter at local parks, playgrounds, lakeside communities, etc. The very few cases of transmission from wild birds to humans has occurred from the direct handling of infected birds.
Those that have flocks of backyard chickens or other poultry should take extra precautions, however, to thoroughly wash their boots/footwear after coming into contact with Canada goose droppings, as their domestic flocks could become infected by contaminated droppings on their boots.
Additionally, we recommend that anyone participating in egg addling wear gloves (switching gloves between nests), consider wearing a facemask, and thoroughly wash their hands, clothes, shoes, and gear after addling.
Audience Question: Are these geese considered invasive to parts of the United States?
Lynsey White: Well, that depends on how you define the term “invasive,” which depends on how you define/determine which species are “native.” I would argue that whether or not Canada geese are native to the U.S. is irrelevant; they are here in abundance because people purposefully stocked them across the country and then altered our urban and suburban habitats in ways that allowed them to flourish! Eliminating Canada geese from our landscapes today would be impossible. But we can reduce their population growth rate through egg addling and can prevent/reduce conflicts with them using all of the techniques discussed today!
Audience Question: So, since you mentioned addling, when you addle eggs or a nest of eggs, do adult all of the eggs in the nest or just some?
Lynsey White: We recommend addling all of the eggs in the nest. This sets your egg addling program up for the best chance of success for reducing the population growth rate of Canada geese that year, and also allows you to use aversive conditioning to move adult geese out of high-conflict areas after nesting season (since they don’t have to tend to flightless goslings). But, it really depends on your community’s goals. Most communities that we work with want to addle as many eggs and nests as possible (knowing that they will never find them all/will always miss some of the nests). But we have also worked with some communities that leave a few eggs in some nests alone, as they want to have some goslings around in the summertime. Just remember that any geese with goslings will be around with those goslings all spring and summer!
Audience Question: So then when the eggs are addled, how long does the hen stay on the nest before abandoning it?
Lynsey White: The female usually stays on the nest for about the same amount of time that she would otherwise (for a total of 28 days), and then will abandon the nest. We sometimes hear concerns from volunteers that the hen will stay on her nest all summer waiting for her eggs to hatch, but we’ve never seen or heard of that happening. Nests fail all the time in nature for a number of reasons, and usually the hen just accepts that her nest didn’t work out that year.
Audience Question: When we addling the eggs, should we worry about oiling the adult, feathers, inadvertently even using 100% corn oil?
Lynsey White: If I understand correctly, the concern is about the oil getting on the adult’s feathers and affecting her waterproofing? The answer is that the oil will get on her feathers (as she sits on the eggs and turns them around), but the oil does not affect her waterproofing.
Host: So, it’s not bad for the mother goose?
Lynsey White: No, it’s not.
Audience Question: Why do geese prefer the fertilized grass?
Lynsey White: They prefer the new shoots of fertilized grass, and they also prefer short, freshly mowed grass that allows them to see any predators coming.
Audience Question: Will another way to curtail the population of geese be to harvest goose eggs for human consumption?
Lynsey White: I’m not sure I entirely understand this question/idea, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service prohibits the eating (or use in any way) of Canada goose eggs. If eggs are legally removed from a nest during egg addling, you must either dispose of them (in municipal garbage), bury them, or burn them.
Audience Question: Is there an overpopulation of Canada geese right now?
Lynsey White: The term “overpopulation” is another relative term that is very difficult to define/quantify. For some people, having five geese in a park (or 2 in their yard) is too many, while others are happy to see flocks of 20-30 geese or more. Everyone has a different social carrying capacity for different species of wildlife. Again, we have created environments that are very attractive to Canada geese, and at this point there’s nothing we can do to completely eliminate them from our landscape. The best solution is to address and solving the conflicts that the geese are actually causing (which is what this presentation was all about)!
Audience Question: Why, could you re-explain again, why you don’t recommend poking a hole in the eggs?
Lynsey White: Sure. It’s just too easy to do it incompletely/incorrectly. Incomplete piercing (or shaking) can leave the embryo alive but deformed, resulting in the hatching of a deformed gosling. These methods are risky and also unnecessary since the methods that we approve of and that I discussed (oiling, replacement, and removal) are so easy to do and effective.
Click Here to Watch a Recording of Solving Problems with Canada Geese.