Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Authors studied the effects of human disturbance on staging in snow geese (Chen caerulescens atlantica) spring and fall in the Montmagny bird sanctuary, Québec, 1985-87. They recorded 652 disturbances (any event causing all or a part of the snow goose flock to take flight) in 471 hr of observation. Rate of disturbance was higher in fall (1.46/hr) than in spring (1.02/hr) (P < 0.001). The entire flock was disturbed in 20% of all cases. Mean time in flight was 56 and 76 sec in fall and spring (P = 0.049). Transport-related activities, particularly low-flying aircraft, caused > 45% of all disturbances in spring and fall. In 40% of all cases (P > 0.05) snow geese stopped feeding following a disturbance. Mean time to resume feeding was 726 sec in fall compared to 122 sec in spring (P < 0.001). Disturbance level on a fall day was related to snow goose use the following day (P < 0.01). When disturbance exceeded 2.0/hr, 50% fewer snow geese were present the next day. Low-level aircraft flights over goose sanctuaries should be strictly regulated.