A volunteer-led approach to geese management in Rochester is set to start in the spring.

The Park Board has authorized a plan to addle eggs laid along the shores of Silver Lake and Cascade Lake next year.

“I think that’s the best possible plan,” board member Chad Ramaker said, citing his appreciation for the volunteer effort to be led by Laura Settle, a Rochester resident and park system advocate.

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The addling process typically involves oiling or otherwise manipulating eggs to prevent them from developing and hatching. The activity is listed as a humane control measure by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Since it involves direct contact with goose nests and eggs, the plan requires state and federal permits, which the city will seek before work starts in March.

Addling is done from March through May, when geese typically lay eggs.

Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said the short season limits the scope of the effort to the two city parks.

“I wanted to make sure it wasn’t putting too much pressure on a volunteer group,” he said.

A mother goose watches her babies on Wednesday. May, 6, 2020, at Silver Lake Park in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)
A mother goose watches her babies on Wednesday. May, 6, 2020, at Silver Lake Park in Rochester. (Traci Westcott / twestcott@postbulletin.com)

Silver Lake Park has been the topic of goose-control efforts for years. In 2007, the city removed feeders from the park and planted tall grass and other native plants at the edge of Silver Lake as part of the stormwater management project, which helped deter geese.

The Park Board refocused efforts in 2018, seeking to more actively discourage feeding geese in the park.

Earlier this year, Cascade Lake Beach was closed after water-quality tests revealed high levels of bacteria that has been linked to goose droppings.

In addition to approving the volunteer effort at the two parks, Park Board members asked Widman to research the cost of contracting for similar services in Soldiers Field and Foster Arends parks.

“I understand it’s a capacity issue on a number of levels, but when we initially had this discussion, the board asked for a proposal for all the parks,” Ramaker said.

Canada geese in the South Fork of the Zumbro River near the Mayo Civic Center Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in downtown Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)
Canada geese in the South Fork of the Zumbro River near the Mayo Civic Center Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020, in downtown Rochester. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Widman said budgeting added work could be difficult with limited funding for the activity, but he’d seek estimates on costs and report back to the board.

Additionally, he said the volunteer effort is seen as a starting point.

“We agreed that if we could recruit enough volunteers, we would grow into the other two parks,” he said.

Settle said she has approximately 10 volunteers in mind at this point, but is hoping to get as many as 20 lined up by March.

“I’m hoping the recruitment of volunteers will sort of have a domino effect,” she said, adding that she believes 30 or so is a manageable number for the first year.

Volunteers are expected to be trained in February, with required equipment provided by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Widman said anyone wanting to help in the effort can contact the department at 507-328-2525.