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The challenge of abundance


Roughly 100 years ago, snow goose numbers had plummeted to such low levels that hunting was restricted in many parts of North America. Thanks to foresight and some helpful management policies, the birds rebounded, and rebounded, and rebounded. Increasing some 300 per cent since the 1970s, the population is showing few meaningful signs of slowing down.

Why the sudden jump? The birds’ migration route and wintering grounds overlap the continent’s richest agricultural regions, providing a virtually unlimited supply of nutritious grain to support their 3,000-mile journey North. Resources in their summer range however, are subject to limitation and the geese are stripping bare their coastal wetland habitats, especially in the Hudson Bay region. A challenge for wildlife managers, at least one suggested solution would see an influx of goose on the dinner plates of many North Americans. In the mean time, officials are encouraging hunters to take advantage of reduced regulations on the birds to slow them down.

Unimaginable flocks of Snow Geese fill the Arctic skies during the summer breeding season. Flocks this size are causing significant damage to their own Arctic habitats.