Image Credit: Jay Dyer
An investigation by the University has found “no evidence” that a student was responsible for smashing a goose egg on campus over the Easter break.
Moreover, it was discovered that the egg in question was already rotten and the University suspects it was likely from last year’s mating season. No chicks, therefore, were harmed when the egg was destroyed, and it is likely the egg was removed from a nesting site by the waterfowl themselves in advance of this year’s mating season.
In a statement, a University spokesperson said: “The University has investigated this incident. The smashed egg was already rotten and therefore likely to have been from last year. It is common for geese to remove old eggs and egg shell from nesting sites at this time of year.
“There is no evidence to suggest a person smashed the egg.”
The investigation followed outcry by people on campus and across the world, after a post on the Facebook anonymous confessions page, Yorfessions, from 24 March went viral and was shared over 80 000 times. In the post, the author claimed that the egg had been smashed by a person, and threatened to drown them in the campus lake.
Dubbed “egg-gate” by horrified users online, the post was picked up by animal rights groups and news organisations, who regurgitated the accusation without due verification. Some called for the alleged perpetrator to be expelled, while others hoped they would be attacked by the animals in an act of vengeance. One noted: “Most of the geese I’ve met are assholes and I hate them, but they don’t deserve this.”
The destruction of wild bird eggs or their nests is a crime under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Part I of the legislation, which deals with the protection of birds, makes clear that if any person intentionally “takes or destroys an egg of any wild bird”, they are guilty of an offence. Those found guilty can face an unlimited fine, six months in prison, or both.
The 500-acre University campus, across East and West, is home to a wide range of animal species, but the geese are perhaps the most famous residents. The geese typically mate from February through to April. Geese often have one mating partner and may not find a new one if their mate dies, instead living as a widow. The incubation period of eggs generally lasts for between 28 and 35 days, with hatching taking up to three days.
A University spokesperson said of York’s waterfowl population: “The welfare of all our wildlife on campus is very important to us and we are particularly proud of the diversity of our wildfowl population ... Anyone who has any information of suggested deliberate mistreatment of wildfowl on campus should contact campus security.”
Students are encouraged not to believe everything they read on Yorfessions.