Snow Goose Origins

Snow geese present a tricky wildlife management situation. Their numbers have increased so much that they are harming the Arctic tundra where they raise their young.

Where are all these geese coming from? One theory says that they are fattening up on rice farms in the South. Since we can’t fly along with the geese as they migrate from their wintering grounds to their breeding grounds, questions remain.

A paper in a recent issue of the journal Avian Conservation and Ecology shows how stable isotopes can be used to determine the wintering grounds of northbound migrant lesser snow geese in the Mississippi and Central flyways. The paper suggests that the same technique can be used to determine the summer location of southbound migrants in the fall.

Finally, the authors say that their techniques can also be used to determine critical habitat for other waterfowl species.

The Avian Conservation and Ecology paper is open access. Read it here.

Photo: Snow geese in Iowa. Photo by Dave Menke, courtesy US Fish and Wildlife Service

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