Boston Is Addling the Geese

An ongoing, albeit minor problem (very minor) in Boston is the goose infestation. Actually, it’s not the geese, it’s the 1.5 lbs of goose shit that an adult goose produces daily. By June or July, many public places, including the Esplanade are covered in goose shit–and that’s really not an exaggeration. By way of The Fenway News, we read that Boston is trying to keep the goose population in check (boldface mine):

Boston golf courses, football fields, ponds, and even the lawn of the Museum of Fine Arts all have one thing in common: unwanted guests. They leave their mark in greenish-brown splotches across sidewalks and lawns. They disrupt the peace by screaming for no reason. They harass innocent bystanders by hissing or charging.

They are Canada geese.

“If anything, there are more geese than ever,” Jacquelyn Goddard, Director of External Affairs and Communications for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, said of this spring.

The department prepared to respond to complaints about the plentiful geese populations by starting its annual goose egg “addling” efforts March 30. The addling process involves covering gosling eggs in corn oil so the embryos cannot get oxygen and do not develop.

Last year, the department addled 298 eggs from 53 nests across the city, according to the city’s annual report on addling. One hundred and ninety-three eggs were addled in the Back Bay Fens and 26 were addled around the Muddy River….

The parks department began addling eggs after receiving complaints about geese in parks six or seven years ago, Goddard said. Residents are often bothered by the birds’ waste or their aggressive behavior toward dogs and even people. Canada geese are difficult to deal with because they are federally protected and do not migrate. They also usually live for about 20 years and begin nesting when they are three years old, so one goose can nest for 17 years. The geese are also territorial and return to where they are born to lay their own eggs….

Crockford [of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy] said that although the geese can be fun to watch this time of year, they are an issue because they have no predators and their excrement gets everywhere, to the point that they are fouling water and harming the aqueous environment on which other animals depend.

(I think the word is aquatic, but no need to get snooty). I think it’s awesome there’s an actual report about addling (pdf here). Here’s what the procedure entails (boldface mine):

When rangers do go out to addle, they usually work in pairs so one can distract the adult geese with an umbrella while another oils eggs, Goddard said. The rangers place the eggs back in their nest after addling them so that the geese do not lay more eggs.

It’s a good start, though it’s still ridiculous that they’re federally protected in urban areas. The Esplanade will probably still be covered in goose shit this year…

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1 Response to Boston Is Addling the Geese

  1. Sarah Correia says:

    They can be herded by border collies who have been brought into the Public Garden and the Esplanade as you can rent the services of a pack of them plus their handler. Problem is that the geese can tell that the border collies are gone so they come back.

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