This week marks the beginning of the 12th annual Canada goose egg-addling program as part of the Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program.
Since program inception, the nesting population has not increased and remains at approximately 2,500 birds.
“This is remarkable,” said Kate Hagmeier, Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program co-ordinator in a news release. “The 2017 population report from the Canadian Wildlife Service shows that elsewhere in B.C., the goose population is increasing at a rate of 16 per cent. At that rate this population should be doubling every five years. Thankfully, this is not occurring in the Valley where over 11,000 geese have been humanely prevented from entering the population, in addition to their generations of offspring, through addling.”
According to the Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program, the nesting geese targeted are not native to the region. They are hybrid offspring of several different subspecies of Canada geese that were introduced in the 1960’s and 70’s. Canada geese from elsewhere in Canada and the U.S. were translocated to the Valley as part of managed introduction program.
Hagmeier said what was not foreseen was the inability of these geese to migrate because they had no parents or natural triggers to guide them and their ability to adapt and thrive in the mild Okanagan climate. She said the consequences have been a steadily growing population with few natural controls and a need to manage this population.
Egg addling involves shaking eggs or coating them with non-toxic biodegradable food-grade corn oil within 14 days of incubation to make them non-viable. Hagmeier said the U.S. Humane Society supports this egg addling technique.
Once addled, eggs are returned to the nest. Geese continue to incubate until they realize the eggs will not hatch. By then it is generally too late in the year to produce more eggs. Adults are not harmed and will continue with their regular life cycle.
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 keep away from goose nests and to avoid touching the eggs. A federal permit is required to allow crews to addle goose eggs on public and private lands with owners’ permission. In the case of private lands, an authorization form is available on the program website.
In addition to egg addling and population surveys, many geese have been marked with leg-bands. Bird-banding is the practice of applying unique markers (bands) to legs of birds. When a marked bird is observed by a birdwatcher or recovered by a hunter, data on age, survival, habitat use and migratory patterns can be retrieved and analyzed.
“The data collected from leg-bands allows us to improve our understanding of how the population is formed and where to target management strategies,” said Hagmeier.
The Okanagan Valley Goose Management Program is a partnership between the City of Kelowna, Central Okanagan Regional District, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, District of West Kelowna, City of Vernon, City of Penticton, District of Lake Country, Town of Osoyoos, Town of Oliver, District of Peachland, District of Summerland, Westbank First Nation, Glenmore Ellison Irrigation District, Greater Vernon Water and the District of Coldstream.