October 7, 2007

The City of Oakland's "Lake Merritt Canada Goose Management Study" (July 2007) is available to read here.

I got all nervous the other day walking towards the #57 bus stop, when I realized that there are well less than half of the geese that there were at the lake a month or so ago. I had been feeding them cut up tortillas before work. Given the local media attention, I just assumed the city did something heinous. Apparently, a huge number of "non-resident" geese fly in in July for the molting season which lasts for about 8 weeks. So the goose population spikes into the thousands in summer, rather than the usual 200-400 geese that hang around here on a permanent basis. While molting, apparently the birds can't fly, so they prefer areas with a lot of grass and drinkable water, making Lake Merritt something of a goose summer resort.

Also learned from the pamphlet: the ethical "humane" way to thwart the goose population is to spray their eggs with vegetable oil. It forms a seal around the egg, causing the bird fetus to asphyxiate (How is this ethically better or more efficacious than cracking eggs?). The inclusion of these particular details is quizzacle, since the report admits that Lake Merritt geese are reproducing at very low rates--seagulls and feral cats, the most likely culprits. Egg oiling would need some kind of writ from the gov't to do. Using dogs to harass geese out of certain Lake Merritt areas, however, would not need a writ as long as the dogs didn't touch the birds.

Is this the earliest bird sanctuary in America, or isn't it?



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