A few years ago some people from Great Neck volunteered to learn to addle Canada geese eggs in an effort to slowly, but surely, reduce their ever-growing population. Geese Peace, a national organization that promotes humane reductions in the goose population by oiling their eggs, which in turn arrests the egg yolk's development, trained these volunteers. The training session was held at Town Hall in Manhasset.
It is March. It is the season that Canada geese lay eggs. It is important to move swiftly to find those nests. The small window of opportunity is now. Usually, this is the time that this newspaper prints notifications about the program and asks any member of the public who believes that Canada geese are nesting on his or her property to call the Record so that the volunteers can be alerted and can make house calls.
In light of the recent collision between geese and U.S. Airways Flight 1549, the volunteers felt it was even more vital to have a successful egg-oiling program this year.
Three weeks ago, the Record called the town's public information officer, Colin Nash, to find out when the town would be kicking off the egg-oiling season. Mr. Nash, relatively new to his position, promised to speak with Supervisor Jon Kaiman and respond to the request.
Then, on March 5, the Record called Mr. Nash again. He said that he had spoken with the supervisor but there was "some problem with the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) with volunteers oiling the eggs."
The next day, Mr. Kaiman called. He said that the program was not under the auspices of the town. This was a surprising statement. At the time, when the Record first wrote about the program and the training, it was clearly noted in a Record story that it had town sponsorship.
Mr. Kaiman went on to add that "there is some problem with the DEC," but he could not remember exactly what the problem was. The town's park department has staff, a "green team," who locate nests on town property and oil those eggs. It was pointed out to Mr. Kaiman that since Great Neck is a peninsula, there are many homeowners whose lots abut the water and many who have nesting geese. What about those geese?
The next call was to the DEC. Their spokesperson in Region 10 said that he would check into it. Days went by. The problem had to be referred to the Albany office for clarification.
The Record received a confusing email from the DEC on March 10.
It seems that when corn oil is used to limit a population, it is considered a pesticide. And to apply pesticide, you need to be a certified pesticide applicator. Using that logic, beer and salt, used to attract and kill slugs, respectively, would also be considered pesticides.
Luckily, the DEC does make exceptions. If you are a farmer, you may oil geese eggs; if you are a private homeowner, you may use corn oil to addle eggs.
Since nesting geese can be quite aggressive, it is truly not a good idea to go shooing them away from their nests without proper training. As the Record has reported before, an agitated goose with its muscular neck and hard beak can whack an interfering human hard enough to break an arm.
The Albany DEC public information person was helpful. She called back to say that since our volunteers had trained with Geese Peace, they could go on oiling eggs under a "modified apprentice" program.
Armed with this information, the Record again called the town. At press time, the Record had not received any response to this new information.
Meanwhile, those geese are heeding the call of the wild.
(Editor's note: If you believe you have nesting geese on your property and would like to have the eggs addled, you may call Ms. Frank, one of the trained volunteers, at 482-4490 for further information. You may also call the Town of North Hempstead, the entity that oversees animal control at 311.)