Saturday, January 5, 2008

More on Snow Geese.


Back in early November I posted (twice) about the Lesser Snow Geese that had arrived en masse in the Terra Nova neighbourhood of Richmond BC. By now, a lot were supposed to have continued further south, but it appears they are quite happy to stay for the winter, and eat (and process) the local soccer fields and school yards, and have been receiving considerable press for doing so, television as well as print (more).

It seems that a combination of several consecutive very productive breeding seasons, and shrinking options of where to winter are funnelling the birds to this prime spot, this deltaic island at the mouth of the Fraser River, a place these birds have wintered in some numbers since the islands formed, post ice-age.

The Terra Nova neighbourhood is an affluent, very new (still under construction) subdivision, built on former farmland, where, historically, the geese were part of the annual cycle. There was extensive opposition to the rezoning of the land for residential development in the late 80s and early 90s, but the developers and their money exerted pressure enough to convince the bare minimum of politicians to do the short-sighted thing, and approve the rezoning.

So the geese do what they do, eat green things and their roots -- could be marsh plants, could be potato tubers, could be soccer fields.

There have been calls for a cull, but so far that is a non-starter. The geese are an intercontinental phenomenon. On that scale, the troubles of a few little sports fields don't amount to a hill of beans. (What the geese leave behind sure don't look like beans.)

More on snow geese at the same time but in a very different place, the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Texas, was provided this week in Journals of an Amateur Naturalist.

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