Lacey Township will continue its efforts to reduce the geese population after approving an application for an egg addling program.
The application, which is to be submitted to the United States Department of Agricultural (USDA), was unanimously approved by the municipal government Thursday.
“I think last year we certainly started to make an impact and I think the program worked well,” Committeeman Gary Quinn said of the 2012 addling program.
Last year, the township began exploring options to control its geese population, tabling euthanizing the birds but proceeding with harassment techniques such as an eagle kite and habitat changes.
The eagle kite will not be used this year. With the eagle kite, geese were conditioned to flee when a whistle was blown.
“The conditioning didn’t have the lasting effects that I would have liked,” Recreation Director Jim Wioland said. “It would have taken many more visits, which would have added to the dollar amount to have the geese conditioned to the point where we would have them start to vacate.”
For the service to be effective, it has to be continuous, he said.
“Those types of services are pricey. They run in the thousands,” he said.
Also, once the geese were conditioned, they would eventually adapt and realize the whistle wasn’t an actual threat, he said.
Last year, the township began an egg addling program as well. The USDA found and treated 117 eggs. The program cost $2,400.
“I feel it was very productive,” Mayor David Most said.
In egg addling, the USDA locates the eggs and determines if they are new or mature by putting them in water. If an egg floats, it’s too developed for the addling to be effective.
Eggs that are relatively new are rubbed in corn oil, which keeps that egg from hatching, Wioland said.
“You start to control the number of geese you have in the area,” Wioland said. “By helping to reduce the number of geese being born each year, over time it’ll have a lasting effect.”
This technique will take longer to see positive effects, he said. Last year, there were four goslings on the lake. Although 117 eggs were treated, not all would have hatched or become full grown geese had the addling not been done.
If 25 percent of the 117 eggs hatched and became full grown, that’s 30 geese now off the lakes, Wioland said.
“We’re helping to just keep the balance there,” he said. “Right now there’s no balance of nature. They continue to reproduce at an alarming rate.”
The USDA will begin the addling program in the beginning of March, Wioland said. Last year, the workers were at the lakes every seven to 10 days from March 1 through May and a couple weeks in September.
By applying to use the USDA, the township would not have to obtain its own permit to do the addling. The USDA has a permanent permit on file, Wioland said.
There had been considerations to recruit volunteers throughout the township to train to addle eggs.
“I did review the option of finding volunteers and look at the amount of time it would take to manage the volunteer program,” Wioland said. Wioland would have to give something up that brings the township revenue in order to manage the program.
“In this instance, it makes financial sense to outsource this service to a professional,” he said.
Longtime resident Otto Zehl has been advocating saving the township’s lakes for many years. He thanked the township for once again acting on an egg addling program but proposed shutting down the beach this summer.
“I’m wondering how good it’s going to do,” he said, adding that right now there are approximately 300 geese on the lake. “I don’t know what we’re going to do about the beach this summer because it’s just fouling. It’s just absolutely unusable.”
An effective geese management plan will be done in stages and take time, Most said.
“That’s a historic part of our town,” Most said, opposed to closing the beach.
The township will also have to look into other possibilities and capital projects such as dredging the lake, he said.
“I hate to say it but the solution that the township committee came to last year, before it was derailed, was I think the proper one,” Zehl said of when the township was considered euthanizing the geese population. “It’s been proved. We have tried many different ways.”