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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
http://www.mb.ec.gc.ca/nature/migrat...c00s10.en.html

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Over Abundant Snow Goose Populations

Feature Article: Arctic Habitat Threatened by Snow Geese

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Characteristics of Snow Geese Versus Ross' Geese

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Arctic Habitats Threatened by Snow Geese

Overpopulation Problem

"There are too many snow geese! The lesser snow goose population has tripled over the past 20 years and continues to grow at a rate of 5 percent a year. It now stands at over 4.5 million breeding birds. The fragile sub-Arctic and Arctic coastal marsh ecosystem where they nest in the summer cannot sustain this many geese.

A number of factors may have contributed to the rapid increase: a rich and plentiful diet of readily available agricultural crops such as rice, corn and winter wheat along the migratory routes boosted survival rates; past management decisions aimed at protecting the geese when populations were low worked extremely well - maybe too well; and climate change, especially in the Arctic, may have lessened the frequency of periodic breeding faliures.

All of this has created a unique situation for wildlife managers. Traditional management calls for limits on hunting and harvests to protect a species. In this case, it has been necessary to encourage more harvest to prevent the geese from destroying the habitat they and species of shorebirds, passerines and ducks depend on for survival.

Millions of snow geese are mining the fragile tundra in the central and eastern Arctic. The geese pull plants up by the roots to feed on them, stripping the ground bare. Along the coast of West Hudson Bay, it is estimated that nearly one third of the habitat has been destroyed while another third is seriously damaged. In Arctic climates, habitat recovers slowly, if at all. The geese are beginning to move inland in search of food and are now threatening freshwater marshes. This could have a serious, long-term impact on the entire coastal ecosystem, including the other wildlife species which depend on it.

Not only are snow geese threatening the Arctic ecosystem, a number of the populations are showing signs of stress. Due to intense competition for food, thousands of goslings starve to death or die from disease. Some of those that survive the summer do not grow large enough to leave with their parents on the fall migration, and die with the onset of winter.

Damage to agricultural crops is another consequence of increasing snow goose populations. Crops in swath are vulnerable to fall-migrating snow geese and crops like winter wheat can get damaged during both winter and spring migrations.

Science-based Solutions

The international Arctic Goose Joint Venture (AGJV) was established under the auspices of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan to coordinate and promote research and monitoring of Arctic-nesting geese. It created a continent-wide scientific working group to investigate the problem of overabundant snow goose populations and recommend solutions. The AGJV endorsed the recommendation that the wintering population be reduced to about 1.5 million birds. Government wildlife agencies in Canada and the U.S. have proposed and implemented several strategies to achieve this reduction. They include:

A spring harvest has been held in some provinces, territories and states: A new Protocol to the Canada-U.S. Migratory Bird Convention Act allows special spring hunting seasons as a management option.

Increased subsistence harvest by northern native communities.

Sunday hunting; this is a matter of provincial jurisdiction.

The use of electronic calls is now allowed in a number of jurisdictions to increase hunter success.

The number, size and practices for refuges for snow geese is being examined to provide less protection.

If the snow goose population remains high, more damage will occur and the effects on the Arctic ecosystem will be even more devastating. As habitat declines or disappears altogether, other species will also be affected. The Arctic ecosystem may not recover for generations, if at all."

Anyone have a solution, other than hunting them?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Foxes, wolves, and birds would eat their eggs and young ones. I think some fish will eat the goslings while they are swimming, coyotes and foxes would eat them in the south in their winter habitat.
 

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Bubba, I've seen Pike and/or Muskies taking small ducks off the surface of the water many times. I'm not sure of what other species might, but certainly those two species will. Both are almost like freshwater barracudas.
 
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