VERNON, B.C. — Airborne flocks of Canada geese can be symbols of beauty and freedom, but the mess they leave behind on landing can quickly foul parks and beaches.

The Okanagan hosts large numbers of the wild birds, and several area communities have hatched a method to handle the loads of excrement by controlling the prolific breeders.

The region's annual six-week egg addling program started Monday, with a team travelling from Vernon to Osoyoos, targeting nests of the Canada geese.

Eggs are either shaken or coated with biodegradable, food-grade corn oil, which prevents air from passing through the shell so the embryo can't develop.

Project co-ordinator Kate Hagmeier said results of the addling have paid off, with nearly 12,000 eggs prevented from hatching in the nine years since the project began.

"The population has not increased, which is fairly remarkable considering the reproductive capacity of these birds," she said. "They start breeding at two, they stop around 20. They have five young a year. We feel that is a great achievement."

Hagmeier said Canada geese were introduced to the Okanagan around 50 years ago and don't migrate over winter, but the program has done a remarkable job of capping growth of the non-native species.

"When I talk to the partners at the table, all the different jurisdictions, they say they are getting fewer reports of complaints and conflict in parks." (CKIZ)