Egg-addling considered after Abbotsford geese population explodes

Twice as many geese counted in Mill Lake Park in 2016 than previous year prompts proposal to target eggs.

The burgeoning goose population in several Abbotsford parks has prompted the city to consider hiring an environmental firm to reduce the population

The burgeoning goose population in several Abbotsford parks has prompted the city to consider hiring an environmental firm to reduce the population

The burgeoning goose population in several Abbotsford parks has prompted the city to consider hiring an environmental firm to reduce the population, but a cull of existing birds isn’t being considered.

Instead, according to a plan to be presented to the city’s parks, recreation and culture committee next week, goose eggs would be addled (shaken) in order to prevent the hatching of new birds. Egg-addling had been used in Abbotsford in years past, but was stopped in 2009 due to a lack of funds.

This May, a biological survey counted 126 geese at Mill Lake Park, nearly double the number counted a year before. There are also large populations at Albert Dyck Park, Willband Creek Park, and along the Fishtrap Creek Trail.

A city report notes that the local geese population has expanded as the birds seek areas where they are safe from predators and hunters. The region’s farms are providing an “unprecedented abundance of high quality food on the landscape” that allows the birds to survive the winter and reach the egg-laying season in prime condition.

The city has tried to deal with the geese in a range of ways over the years, but most methods have failed. Relocated geese returned, habitat controls were sometimes compromised by citizens trying to help the birds, canine harassment is now against the parks bylaw, a 2012 trial run using hawks to scare geese achieved only limited success, and 14 floating lights installed on Mill Lake to deter geese also failed.

So the city is now considering a return to egg-addling, although the plan comes at a cost.

An environmental consulting firm that has done similar work in the Okanagan has proposed a strategy that would addle eggs at Mill Lake, Albert Dyck, and Willband Creek and Fishtrap Creek parks. The company has also proposed a public information program and collection of data.

The price tag for an environmental consulting firm to undertake the egg-addling would be $26,591.

City staff have recommended moving forward with the strategy, but first, the city’s parks, recreation and culture committee will have a say next Tuesday.