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Giant Canada Goose Flocks in the United States

Pacific Flyway

Pacific Flyway The origin and seasonal distribution of "resident" Canada geese in the Pacific Flyway is considerably different than in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways, and the eastern portion of the Central Flyway. Population information is not reported in a similar manner; thus the presentation format used is different. Yet, resident breeding populations have many similar characteristics and pose comparable management problems.

The subspecific status of Canada geese of the Pacific Flyway long has been a contentious matter; 6 or more of the races breed in Alaska (Johnson et al. 1979). The western Canada goose (or stocks of other large geese) breeding and wintering largely within the Pacific Flyway is now recognized as 2 populations: the Rocky Mountain Population and the Pacific Population. The Pacific population is relatively nonmigratory, with most birds wintering on or near their breeding areas. Some molt migrations to the north occur. The breeding range (Fig. 4) is confined to portions of southern British Columbia, northern and southwestern Idaho, western Montana, Washington, Oregon, northern Nevada, and northeastern California (Pacific Flyway Study Committee 1989). The population objective is a breeding pair index of 4,700-7,200 pairs, which has been achieved (Table 5).

The Rocky Mountain Population is migratory, with regular spring and fall movements between breeding and wintering areas. This population is managed within 15 reference areas ranging from southern Alberta, through central Montana, western Wyoming,

southeastern Idaho, northwestern Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and central and southern California (Pacific Flyway Study Committee 1983). The objective is to maintain a population between 50,000-80,000 geese.

Attempts to stock giant Canada geese in the Pacific Flyway include one flock of about 100 geese established by Bob Ziak (deceased) at Knappa, Oregon U. Bartonek, USFWS, pers. commun.).

Management Issues

In the Pacific Flyway, the mixture of 2 or more populations that are somewhat local but migratory with sedentary resident flocks presents identification problems that influence management planning. Most urban goose problems are caused by resident geese of the Pacific Population. Some of the western Canada geese, primarily the Pacific Population, exist as a result of stocking efforts throughout western Washington during the 1960's and 1970's. The origin of most can be traced to salvage of goose eggs from flooding of the newly created John Day Reservoir on the Columbia River during the 1960's (J. Bartonek, USFWS, pers. commun.).

The Seattle-Tacoma area of Washington has chronic urban goose problems with geese fouling parks and private property along waterways. Several thousand breeding Canada geese are estimated in the Puget Sound area. Plans are underway to move 2,300 of these geese in 1991 to the Snake River in eastern Washington and the panhandle of Idaho. Similar problems were reported from Vancouver, British Columbia, along the Fraser River. In Nevada, the Truckee Meadows flock of 7,000 to 9,000 geese cause some agricultural depredations, frequent municipal parks and golf courses, and present a hazard to aircraft at the Reno airport.

Table 5. Pacific population of western Canada geese, 1970-89.
  1970 1980 1989
Unit BPIa Prod.b BPI Prod. BPI Prod.
1 2,000 5,600 2,100 5,800 2,000 3,300
2 NSc NS 1,500 NS 1,500 NS
3 NS 400 600 600 800 800
4 2,900 6,900 2,000 7,500 4,000 14,200
Total 4,900 12,500 6,200 13,900 8,300 18,300
a Breeding pair index.
b Production
c No survey.

Urban goose problems have received increased attention. Crop depredations are generally handled by scaring techniques or hunting programs. Capture and relocation is used in some instances. New efforts are being directed towards limiting reproduction through disruption of nesting and addling of eggs in high-density nesting areas, such as waterfront parks in the Seattle area (Manual and Ettl 1989).

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