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Longtime nature educator pushes for oil addling alternative in Rochester

The Rochester Park Board approved a plan to addle goose eggs using oil last year.

Posted: Apr 9, 2021 11:18 PM
Updated: Apr 10, 2021 2:07 AM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - A longtime Med City nature educator is expressing concern about Rochester's plan to manage its geese population.

This month the city's parks and recreation department will work with a wildlife management contractor and team of volunteers to addle goose eggs using oil, a process which prevents them from hatching. The activity is required to follow specific protocols recommended by PeTA and The Humane Society.

The Humane Society says addling using oil is ethical as long as eggs have been incubated for less than two weeks. However Greg Munson, who served as the director of Quarry Hill Nature Center for 22 years, has concerns about the practice and believes there is a more ethical solution.

Munson says on average, goose embryos take 28 days to fully develop. He says as they approach 14 days of incubation, embryos go through significant changes, leading him to believe oil addling is inhumane at that stage.

Rather than oil addling, Munson believes eggs should be replaced with ceramic lookalikes as they're laid, ensuring embryos don't develop at all before being removed. The Humane Society calls this form of addling the "removal and replacement" method, another method it recommends.

"The most humane way is to go in, take the eggs out before they start incubating, replace them, and then there has been no development whatsoever," Munson said.

Munson tells KIMT he is confident geese at Silver Lake Park are already incubating their eggs, and starting to addle using oil by the middle of next week is not acceptable to him.

"If their eggs were 11 or 12 days old when they go and oil them, and it takes three or four days, whatever it is, to asphyxiate or suffocate those young, I've got pictures that show an 11 and a 14 day old goose, and they look quite a bit like a goose."

Rochester Parks and Recreations Department Director Paul Widman says the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have approved the procedures for the city's current addling plan. He adds staff have been in communication with these agencies for nearly a year.

Widman also tells KIMT, "there will be plenty of nests untreated up and down stream of all the parks where this work will be conducted. We will not be treating nests that are on private property adjacent to the parks. We are likely to miss many nests in the four parks where this work will take place: Silver Lake, Cascade Lake, Foster Arend and Soldiers Field. This will result in many goslings present later this spring."

The city's addling permit also requires it to submit a report summarizing the date, numbers, and locations of nests and eggs taken. Widman says the data will help inform control efforts going forward.

"This work is being conducted to address two main issues of goose - human conflict: 1) Geese droppings making trails unnavigable, and park amenities such as picnic tables and playground equipment undesirable. 2) Goose feces which contributes to water contamination at public beaches," Widman said.

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