Plans to control Rochester’s resident goose population continues to expand.
The Rochester Park Board unanimously approved an $1,800 contract Tuesday to disturb hatching of eggs in Foster Arends Park and Soldiers Field Park and Golf Course.
“We are not reducing the population,” Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said of the effort. “We are slowing its growth.”
The contract with Chatfield-based Canada Goose Management Inc. would involve two visits to nest at the parks, according to a letter from the company’s president, Tom Keefe.
Widman said it hasn’t been determined whether the initial visits in the spring will involve treating the eggs or replacing them with ceramic eggs to fool the geese, but the second visit would remove whatever is in the nests at the end of the incubation period.
The contracted effort will join a planned volunteer drive to treat eggs at Silver Lake and Cascade Lake parks starting in March. The effort was approved by the park board last month.
Known as addling, the planned treatment by volunteers 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 volunteer and contracted work requires state and federal permits, which Widman said are being sought.
The volunteer effort was confined to two parks to ensure the group isn’t overwhelmed in its first year.
On Tuesday, Rochester City Council member Kelly Rae Kirkpatrick urged the park board to take a broader approach and look beyond the four parks.
She cited public safety concerns related to the potential spread of e.coli, as well as traffic concerns, in other parts of the city, including along Collegeview Drive and Salem Road.
“There are a lot of adult geese getting killed,” she said, pointing to the population as a traffic hazard.
Widman told the Park Board the contract with Canada Goose Management could be expanded to help train volunteers or expand the scope of the work.
“We are at a price point that gives us some flexibility for responding,” he said, adding that plans call for discussing the work with representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
The approved contract calls for a $75 hourly fee, based on the need to spend 12 hours in each park, but Widman noted addressing other areas might require more or less time.
He added that current cost fits in the department’s 2021 budget, but added work could be limited by available funding.
“We are on a pretty tight budget for 2021,” he said, citing cuts made in response to pandemic concerns.
The latest discussion of geese management started in 2018, when the park board initiated efforts to discourage feeding geese along Silver Lake, but geese-control efforts have been considered off and on for years.
In 2007, the city removed feeders from the park and planted tall grass and other native plants at the Silver Lake’s edge as part of the stormwater management project, which helped deter geese.
Added concerts were raised last year, when Cascade Lake Beach was closed after water quality tests revealed high levels of bacteria that has been linked to goose droppings.