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Derry authority starts an egg hunt of its own

| Saturday, March 30, 2013, 12:04 a.m.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Canada Geese swim on the water at Ethel Lake on March 29, 2013 near Derry.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Canada Geese swim on the water at Ethel Lake on March 29, 2013 near Derry.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
Signs ask guests to not feed the geese at Ethel Lake on March 29, 2013 near Derry.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review
A pair of Canada geese take to the water at Ethel Lake on March 29, 2013 near Derry.

While goose eggs are not brightly colored or filled with chocolate, Derry Borough Municipal Authority has issued a real-life Easter egg hunt.

Officials are hoping to cut down on the resident Canada geese population that has reached as high as 900 around 30-acre Ethel Lake, which supplies the water system.

“They'll come in and out, and in the summer they like to stay when they lose their feathers,” said Amy Forsha, assistant manager of the authority.

With nesting season under way, the authority is asking residents to seek out the eggs. Each found egg through April 10 will mean a $1 reward for the finder.

Authority workers have received a permit to oil the eggs from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services and have studied materials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Once residents show where a nest is located, authority workers will rub the eggs with corn oil and mark them with an ‘X.'

“The corn oil will block the pores to block the air and keep the embryo from developing,” she said, adding that the eggs must remain in the nests or the geese will lay more.

In September, the authority contracted a Johnstown-based pest control agent to harass the geese in a $1,600, six-month trial.

Larry Crespo, of Crespo Wildlife Services, visited the lake and encouraged the geese to take flight, using a kayak, remote-controlled boat and dog.

After the authority was presented a longer-term contract to harass the geese and treat the eggs for $7,000, Forsha said, the authority decided to try other methods.

“Due to funds, we decided to discontinue using his services,” she said.

Authority workers studied a six-minute video, which instructs how to fend off geese from the nests and apply the oil.

Resident Canada geese, so named because they do not migrate, are particularly adaptable to human surroundings, which is why areas of “conflict” sometimes develop, said Carol Bannerman, public affairs specialist with USDA Wildlife Services.

“When we encounter those situations, we try and use an integrated approach,” she said, using many options to help resolve overcrowding in areas such as Ethel Lake, where at highest count the geese numbered up to 900.

Forsha said officials were not sure how many nests to expect during the nesting season, but recalled about two dozen young in four to five nests last year.

Derry Township supervisor Vince DeCario said he doesn't want goose droppings and feathers affecting Derry's drinking water.

“There's way too many up there,” said DeCario, who also serves on the authority board that oversees the lake that bisects the border between Derry Township and the borough. “Animals are one thing, but humans are another thing; they're No. 1 for me.”

Pennsylvania Game Commission spokesman Joe Neville said the permit to control geese helps measure the population and track data like location and species.

“It allows us to control the situation so there aren't unintended consequences,” he said.

Anyone out trying to spot the geese should not approach nests, which might provoke an attack.

Forsha also reminds visitors to the lake to avoid the wetlands area on the backside of the lake and that no one is permitted to climb on the rocks near the dam breast.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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