The Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program is conducting its 16th annual egg-addling program this year, with communities from Vernon to Osoyoos taking part in the approach to reducing conflict between people and nesting geese.
Egg addling is the least invasive form of goose population control, supported by animal welfare groups like the U.S. Humane Society, which has a protocol to ensure the addling process is humane and effective.
Egg addling involves shaking eggs or coating them with non-toxic biodegradable food-grade corn oil within 14 days of incubation, making the eggs non-viable. The eggs are then returned to the nest and the geese will continue to incubate them, until they realize the eggs will not hatch. By that time, it’s usually too late in the year to produce more eggs. The process does no harm to the adult geese.
The egg addling program prevents the goose population — about 2,500 birds in the program’s area — from growing out of control. Over 15 years of addling, more than 20,000 eggs have been addled equating to a suppression of as many as 15,000 geese from the population, plus the thousands of offspring these geese could have hatched over the years.
The City of Vernon has other plans in the works to deal with the goose population. In June 2021, council approved a kill to scare program for that year, on top of added funding for turf cleaning in an effort to clear goose feces in popular public outdoor spaces.
A kill to scare program has been approved for 2022, but the city is waiting on permits from backlogged provincial and federal government departments to be able to go ahead with the program.
Council also approved an adjustment in the 2022 budget deliberations regarding an annual kill to scare program and turf cleaning, as well as changes to the Firearms and Weapons bylaw to allow goose hunting on McKay Reservoir.
The egg-addling program also assists communities through public education, population monitoring and habitat modification.
Program manager Kate Hagmeier reminds that management actions target geese that would not naturally be nesting in the region, as these are the offspring of several different subspecies of Canada geese that were introduced in the 1960s and 1970s. Canada geese from elsewhere in Canada and the U.S. were moved here as part of managed introduction programs.
Finding and accessing new nests is a key to the program’s success, and the public is asked to report lone geese, pairs of geese or nest locations on private or public land by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 1-877-943-3209.
The public is asked to leave it to the experts; keep away from goose nests and don’t touch the eggs. A federal permit is required to allow crews to addle goose eggs. If a nest is on private land, a permission form to access the nest is available at www.okanagangooseplan.com.
Crews will be addling until mid-May.
The Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program is a partnership between the City of Vernon, Regional District of North Okanagan, District of Coldstream, District of Lake Country, City of Kelowna, Regional District of Central Okanagan, Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen, City of West Kelowna, City of Penticton, Town of Osoyoos, Town of Oliver, District of Peachland, District of Summerland, and the Westbank First Nation.