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Nov 2, 2010

70,000 Snow Geese at Delta, B.C.

The above photo of Lesser Snow Geese, filling the sky at Delta, British Columbia, was taken by Don Flucker. Don mentions in an email that the over-wintering population of Lesser Snow Geese at Delta now numbers 70,000. That's double the number of 25 years ago. These geese normally summer on Russia's Wrangel Island. Other Snow Geese migrate further south than the Delta population and spend their winters as far south as California. The total population of North American Snow Geese, including sub-species Lesser, Greater, and Ross's, is now between 5 and 6 million, making Snow Geese the most abundant of all geese in North America. While this number has been skyrocketing over the last several decades, learned opinion says that the numbers are only just approaching historical levels. Others say that the current levels are unsustainable for many reasons and drastic control measures are required. Habitat destruction by Greater Snow Geese around James and Hudson Bays are often cited as evidence for remedial intervention by humans. We seem to totally ignore the fact that the history of animal population (including Snow Geese) on this planet has always been subject to dynamic ebbs and flows. We are not content to accept that the world can exist and survive without human interference. How presumptuous and pathetic. Here in southern Canada, we are amazed at the population explosion of Canada Geese, but that is nothing compared to Snow Geese numbers elsewhere in the country. My youngest sister, Denise, lives in Wemindji, Quebec, a Cree Indian village about halfway up the eastern side of James Bay. Snow Geese were once a part of the native diet in Wemindji, but as mentioned above, Snow Geese have degraded the shorelines of large parts of James and Hudson Bays to the extent that the geese now bypass those waters and don't stop-over on their southern migrations until they they reach places like Canada's southern prairies and the northern American states. Moreover, Denise says Cree goose hunters prefer the taste of Canada Goose. The Cree also shoot a large version of the Canada Goose, which they call the Long-necked Goose, but it is falling out of favour because it is not as tasty as the regular Canada Goose and it is harder to pluck. I guess that's the end of today's class.
Please comment if you wish.
BtheB It's not all Snow Geese out in Delta, B.C. Don Flucker also sent this photograph of a male Wood Duck at a backyard bird feeder. I've seen lots of Wood Ducks over the years, but this first one I've ever seen at a feeder. Great photo, Don.

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