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Rochester looking to control goose population after Cascade Lake Beach temporarily closes

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- The recent closing of Cascade Lake because of E. coli has prompted the Parks and Recreation Department to consider goose population control. Silver Lake Park has a similar issue with geese.

The City of Rochester and Canadian geese have a complicated relationship that spans years.

Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said it started when the Mayo brothers domesticated them years ago. The flocks grew quickly and at one point, Silver Lake Park alone had more than 40,000 geese.

Widman said geese prefer spaces out in the open, so the Department has tried to reduce their residency by adding extra vegetation around open water. He said in addition to water contamination, park goers have slipped on droppings or avoided areas heavily laden with goose feces.

The park board is looking ahead to a solution for spring 2021 and discussed the option of egg addling in their meeting on Tuesday.

Widman said egg addling is when eggs are discreetly removed from a nest, and shaken or coated with an oil, and then placed back into the nest. The oil suffocates the embryo, killing it. The idea is the mother goose will still think the eggs are viable and not lay more. Widman said simply removing and destroying the eggs would prompt the goose to build a new nest and just lay more.

"We started out with looking at our two parks with the most prevalent amount of complaints and issues, and that would be Silver Lake and Cascade Lake," Widman said.

Widman said egg addling is recommended by the Humane Society of America and PETA. He said other communities choose an option of "urban hunting" and give residents permission to shoot the geese and donate the meat to food pantries. He said Rochester will not consider that option.

The project will need to be contracted out since Widman said they haven't gotten much interest from volunteers. Parks and Recreation staff are drawing up a proposal to present to Rochester City Council in September.

"The recommendation from the board in yesterday's meeting was to have staff go back to work on this, look at all the costs, still focusing on the two parks, but giving the board options to expand that, " Widman said.

The plan is to also include neighborhood groups in the effort. Widman said it is a sensitive subject that requires open conversation.

In the meantime, Widman advised the public to avoid feeding the geese bread or junk food. Canadian geese can produce up to four pounds of droppings a day. There are approximately 10,000 geese currently living across Rochester.

Megan Zemple

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