Ever since this whole goose control debate has addled our community, I've wondered about the the alternative plan put forward by some people: That is, using ceramic eggs to replace the real eggs. It seems like a more humane procedure since it doesn't require the use oil to keep the eggs from hatching. But what happens to the real goose eggs that are replaced with the ceramic eggs? -- Fred

The quick answer to your question, Fred, is that the real goose eggs are discarded. Now some may regard that as equally inhumane to goose egg addling. But Greg Munson, who first stirred up this goose's nest of controversy with a column published in the Post Bulletin, says the ceramic egg process, if done and timed correctly, is a "much more humane process."

He says that during the time that geese are laying eggs, they do not begin incubating them until they've laid all their eggs. So until incubation has begun, all that's inside the egg are two cells, a sperm and an egg cell.

"So there's been absolutely no development. So if you take the eggs out then, you just discard them because there's nothing in them, like there is if you wait until 10 to 12 to 14 days after they've been incubating, which is what (the city of Rochester's) policy is. You can have half-developed goslings in there."

The Rochester Parks and Recreation Department notes that the Human Society of the United States recommends both ceramic eggs and egg addling to control goose populations. The downsides to ceramic eggs, it says, are the logistics of purchasing the eggs and coordinating the effort in using them. In Rochester, ceramic eggs are currently on backorder.

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The size of the area's goose population has become a city preoccupation, because of the amount of droppings it generates. Geese drop between 1.5 and 2 pounds of feces per day. And the poop contributes to water contamination, which has led to periodic summertime closings of Foster Arend and Cascade Lake beaches. Bike trails, playgrounds, and picnic tables are often covered in droppings.

In goose egg addling, Rochester volunteers have used a float test to ensure all the eggs haven't reached their 14th day of incubation. The Humane Society says that eggs that have been incubated less than 14 days can be addled humanely.

Munson disagrees. Even within that two-week window, he argues, a gosling has begun development and is thus slowly suffocated within a shell coated with oil.

Some people might object to discarding undeveloped goose eggs, but Munson argues that without the ceramic egg option, you have few good choices: An unmanaged goose population, rounding up and killing geese, or egg oiling.

Munson compares the fertilized but undeveloped goose egg to a chicken egg at the same stage of development. What do we do with those eggs without compunction? We eat them.

"Many people eat chicken eggs at that stage, because they have a rooster, they have chickens. And they collect the eggs and put them in the refrigerator right away, and there's no development that takes place," he said.

Send questions for the Answer Man to answerman@postbulletin.com.