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Greenwich Daily Voice serves Greenwich, CT

Greenwich Aims To Control Geese Population

GREENWICH, Conn. – The resident geese population in Greenwich will get a little smaller once the Conservation Department starts oiling the gosling eggs this spring.

“There are so many resident geese around, and they’re borderline pests,” says Joe Cassone, Greenwich conservation assistant. Members of the department will drench eggs with common corn oil during the resident Canada geese’s nesting period from the end of March to May. The Humane Society approves the process.

“The geese are actually different from the migratory geese – they stay in town and hop around from pond to pond and park to park, which really diminishes the value of our parks,” said Cassone. “They can be aggressive while they are nesting, and everyone knows how much goose defecation there is.”

The geese are shooed away from nests with umbrellas, a method that passively dissuades geese from attacking. “It’s a bit of a leap of faith,” says Cassone. However risky the method may seem, it gives conservation members time to coat the eggs in corn oil, which cuts off respiration so the eggs won’t hatch. It is part of a program through GeesePeace , which was created by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“People always ask why we don’t just take the eggs or break them, and that’s because the geese will actually go and re-lay another nest. It’s just an unnecessary hardship,” said Cassone. After the procedure is complete, female geese will return to the nest, but eggs won’t hatch into goslings.

According to GeesePeace, during the early 20th century, migratory geese were used as live decoys. They were captured and bred in captivity. The practice was outlawed by the 1930s, but the population of geese was threatened to near extinction. In the 1960s, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began repopulating wild Canada geese by artificially incubating eggs from the surviving geese. Unfortunately, this led to overpopulation of resident geese with no biological need to migrate. The resident geese of Greenwich are descendents of these geese.

Common nesting sites for geese are in sight of a water body but hidden in adjacent wooden areas. When conservation department members find a nest, they mark it with a flag, because geese will come back to the same area every year.

“If the eggs aren’t oiled, not only will they come back, but those geese and chicks will stay in the park for the rest of the summer,” said Cassone. “Anyone who has been to Byram Park sees the place has been completely bombed out.”

Last year, the town staff oiled nearly 200 eggs, and trained residents oiled an additional 50 eggs.

Greenwich landowners, neighborhood association members, groundskeepers, golf course superintendents and town staff that have goslings in their water resources are encouraged to learn the basics of oiling through a free training program on March 28 at Greenwich Town Hall. To register, call 203-622-6461.

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