Geese management effort expanding to two more Rochester parks

Slatterly and Bear Creek parks will be included in the annual effort to find nests of resident geese so eggs can be treated or replaced within 14 days of incubation to manage numbers in the city.

12-29 03 geese jw .jpg
A small flock of geese tiptoes down onto the ice of Silver Lake.
Post Bulletin file photo

ROCHESTER — Work to manage the number of hatching goose eggs in city parks will expand this year.

The Rochester Park Board approved adding two parks to the list of areas where unhatched eggs will be sought out.

“It seems that Slatterly Park and Bear Creek Park have gotten an increase in resident geese in the last several years,” Park Board member Marty Cormack said, calling for adding the parks to the list.

Board member Mark Bilderback, who represents the area of the city, said the added effort to manage goose numbers is likely to have limited impact on overall numbers.

“We’re only doing city property,” he said. “We’re not getting on anybody else’s property, so we’re probably getting a small percentage.”


Rochester Parks and Recreation Director Paul Widman said it will likely take years of limiting hatching to significantly decrease the number of resident geese in the city.

The department started managing the hatching of the wild geese in 2021, starting with Silver Lake, Cascade Lake, Soldiers Field and Foster Arend parks.

At the time, volunteers and parks staff used oil to “addle” the eggs, which prevents undeveloped eggs from hatching.

Last year, the city started using ceramic eggs to replace the real eggs, so geese would continue to sit on the eggs, rather than laying a new batch.

“I actually preferred it, because we dealt with the live eggs one time,” he said, pointing out that volunteers and staff reclaim the artificial eggs at the end of the hatching season.

The city has approximately 300 artificial eggs, which Widman said will likely be used before oiling of eggs starts.

Last year, Quarry Hill Park was added to the list of possible management of egg numbers, but eggs were only found in Silver Lake and Cascade Lake parks.

A total of 393 eggs were replaced or treated from 77 total nests, which was down from a total of 425 eggs and 78 nests in 2021.


The city has left some eggs to hatch each year. Some were left because they were found to bee to far along in the development process to address, and others were left to ensure some new goslings were hatched.

Widman said he does not plan to intentionally skip nests containing eggs with fewer than 14 days of incubation, but some eggs will likely hatch in the park.

“We always know we are going to miss some,” he said, adding that the number of goslings seen at Silver Lake Park last year shows that more eggs than intended hatched.

He said it’s too early to say how much of an impact the work is having, but the Park Board is able to set a goal for the number of resident geese seen in the city, if it desires.

“There is no optimal number of resident geese,” he said of state determination.

The geese management effort only addresses the resident geese that live in the city year round. The migratory geese seen in the city during warmer months nest and hatch eggs in other areas.

The next round of management is set to start in April.

What happened: The Rochester Park Board approved expanding goose management efforts to two more parks.

Why does this matter: Volunteers and city staff will either replace goose eggs with ceramic versions or oil them so they don't hatch in an effort to manage the number of resident geese in the city.

What's next: The third year of the plan is expected to start in April.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or
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