Bumper crop of snow geese expected this year
By Heather Johnson
Published: Friday, September 3, 2010 4:11 AM CDT
The North Platte Telegraph

If predictions come true, there should be plenty of snow geese to go around this hunting season. Dr. Robert Rockwell is a biology professor at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, N.Y.

He has been traveling to Canada's Hudson Bay Lowlands since 1969 to study the population dynamics of snow geese, and just wrapped up this year's trip in mid-August.

"I'm one of those people who wonders about the population of a species," said Rockwell. "I always want to know if numbers are going up or down, and my advice to hunters this year is to buy lots of ammo. If someone were to design the perfect year for goose productivity, this was it."

Although production was down slightly in the central and western parts of the arctic, the eastern side was booming. Rockwell said the increase was influenced in part by the fact that there weren't as many arctic foxes around to eat hatchlings. The birds also nested nine days earlier than usual.

"Anytime geese can nest earlier, it's an advantage," said Rockwell. "They had to spread out more than normal to find high ground because there was a lot of standing water, but during wet years like this, the grasses and sedges that they eat do better."

Rockwell said this summer was the earliest that he's seen geese flocked and ready to move.

"By the middle of August, they were already 500 miles down the coast in areas they usually don't reach until the middle of September," he said. According to Rockwell, a lot of the birds traveling south will be juveniles.

"What that means is that they should be easier to decoy than last year," he said. "I'd say the juvenile to adult ratio is about 1.5 to one."

The season begins Oct. 9 with a bag limit of 20 per day.

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