‘Geese at Twilight’
In response to complaints about incessant honking, germ-ridden feathers and excrement-fouled waterways, lawns and sidewalks, Fairfax County is calling on volunteers to help control the growing Canadian geese population in the VA-MD-DC metropolitan region.
This call for volunteers centers around training for the population control process called addling, which according to a quote by Fairfax County Biologist Victoria Monroe in an NBCWashington article, “involves applying oil to [fertilized] goose eggs to prevent embryo development,” then returning the egg to the nest. Upon return, it’s particularly important to convince the mother goose that her egg(s) have not been tampered with, because otherwise she would quickly lay more eggs.
Keeping the geese population under control is important. One can just look to last year’s “Miracle on the Hudson” to see just how dangerous and lethal human-bird proximity can be for both species. And with three major airports in the DC region, this is definitely an issue that needs to be addressed. However, I am personally just uncomfortable with a technique involving sneaking into a nest, applying oil to a fertilized egg that suffocates the embryo and then misleading the mother goose, so I won’t be volunteering for addling duty in Fairfax County.
As uncomfortable as I may be with addling, it is somewhat comforting that the technique that was developed and is supported by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). However, HSUS points out that addling should be “only one component of a comprehensive, integrated, humane program to resolve conflict between people and wild Canada geese.” And thankfully addling requires a federal permit and is only a part of a Fairfax Country geese management program that also include techniques like: landscaping alterations, boarder-collie herding, and outreach and education programs. For more information on the program and animal control, you can contact Fairfax County Animal Control at 703-324-0240, TTY 711.