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April 5, 2010

Easter Egg Hunt

Volunteers give up their Easter Sunday to help humanely reduce Canada goose populations

The Humane Society of the United States


  • First nest—the goose is sitting, incubating the eggs, and the gander is right there guarding the nest. Maggie Brasted/The HSUS


  • The female backs up her mate as he defends the nest. Jeff Irish


  • Volunteers have a bucket of water to check the incubation age of eggs, umbrellas to gently scare geese from their nests, and dummy eggs. Jeff Irish


  • Dummy, or fake, eggs are supposed to fool the geese to continue incubating instead of laying replacement eggs. Jeff Irish

  • Geese reclaim their nest and warn us “predators” off. Jeff Irish


  • Young volunteer records required data about each nest to be reported to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Maggie Brasted/The HSUS


  • Waiting for the “ferry”, volunteers collect trash that washed up on the nesting islands. Some trash can be harmful to the birds and other wild animals. Maggie Brasted/The HSUS


  • We’re glad the boat isn’t too heavy as we carry it out at the end of the afternoon. Jeff Irish

by Maggie Brasted

Volunteers launched the Canada goose egg addling season in Olney, Maryland, April 4, 2010. This is our sixth season at this site and our tenth season in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Geese take no holidays

The birds are no respecters of holidays or weather. So we were lucky to have the best weather ever for our first visit over this Passover and Easter weekend. In our area, the first weekend in April is the best time to find completed nests; rarely are the eggs too old to humanely addle. (If we did find older eggs, we would just put them back untreated.) 

On this visit we found 30 nests. We will likely find between 15 and 20 additional nests this season. 

Planned parenthood for geese

Addling to keep flock size stable has checked conflicts in Olney, where 100 Canada geese were rounded up and killed in July 2004 for leaving droppings on lawns and walks. Olney resident and addling volunteer Mary Moneymaker said, “This addling has really made a huge difference in my community. There just aren’t the numbers of geese around our pond in the summer making people angry about the mess.” 

Stress now or later

Mary and the other volunteers don’t like to distress the nesting geese. But after watching geese die at their doorsteps, volunteers are willing to distress adult geese in the spring to prevent another deadly round up of adult and their young in the summer. 

Maggie Brasted, Director, Urban Wildlife Education and Research, runs an addling program entering its 10th season. She has trained numerous volunteers and facility staffers to addle. She also moderates GooseTracks, an online group, which keeps her in touch with addling programs around the country.

» Purchase a copy of Wild Neighbors, the go-to guide for useful, humane solutions to conflicts with wildlife. 

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