When the City of Santa Clara announced in late February that it would drain the Central Park fountain, City crews said they did not expect that the local geese and ducks would be affected. It turns out, that’s far from the case.
Several people walking in Central Park earlier this May did not want to go on the record but say they’ve seen the geese and their goslings walking in nearby neighborhoods. In many cases, the birds looked like they were looking for water.
Inside the park, any source of water seems to suffice. Several families of geese gathered outside a Central Park bathroom to drink from a puddle. Others used a small kiddie pool filled with water that someone left out.
The City drained the fountain in March partly because of the drought, but also to work on the fountain’s biofiltration system. In a report submitted to the City Council on March 22, researchers determined it’s the geese that caused the problems with the fountain’s filtration.
“Over the past few years, the CAGO [Moffitt’s Canada Goose] population has increased and produced excessive amounts of waste that exceeds the capacity of the daily grounds maintenance program to keep pathways, fields, meadows, and recreational amenities clean and sanitary for public use,” read the report. “This creates apparent physical, aesthetic and park user impacts, habitat and species impacts, and potential community health concerns.”
The City hired avian biologist Daniel Edelstein to produce the report, which goes on to call Canadian Geese a “non-native and invasive species.” Canadian Geese are supposed to migrate but they have taken up “year-round” residence at Central Park.
Edelstein introduced a plan to help manage the Canadian Goose population moving forward. The plan calls for egg addling in March. That’s the process of removing a fertilized egg from the nest, terminating the embryo and then returning the egg to the nest.
While the City of Santa Clara has permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to addle the goose eggs, the Council didn’t approve the report until its March 22 meeting, past the point where egg addling would have helped. That may be the problem.
“Failure to begin addling eggs annually in March will result in more management challenges from April through June because eggs laid by CAGO [Canadian Geese] in March typically hatch within 25 days,” reads the report. “Consequently, controlling the goose overpopulation at the Site by punctual addling their eggs during peak egg-laying months is critical to reducing their numbers because adults are reluctant to leave eggs and young behind after newborns hatch.”
Santa Clara’s Director of Communications Lon Peterson says the City is “following the protocol” of the plan submitted by Edelstein, which also includes nest removal in March through June and the planting of certain vegetative species to make it less ideal for future nesting.
Peterson says the bigger issue is that the large amounts of feces dropped by the geese was a “public safety and health issue” and the City “had to respond.”
I don’t think egg adding is the solution. The poor mother geese are going to wonder where the babies are. Do we have another sanctuary or park for the geese to live at?
Very interesting ideas. BTW, the species is called Canada Goose, not Canadian Goose.
There used to be 160+ of them in Jan 2021, now there are only 40+ of them, most of them have already migrated, only the parents with new borns left. If we missed the time to addling eggs, can we respect these new lives, and give them more time to grow up a little bit so that they can fly and find other place to live? I believe we can have a better plan for these new babies.