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Field reports: Local geese herded for population study

Sun., June 19, 2011

WILDLIFE – Biologists and volunteers herd Canada geese into pens and clamped leg bands on about 1,000 young birds in Eastern Washington in the past week for a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department study on goose population trends.

Teams within the Spokane area banded geese Thursday at Qualchan Golf Course, Gonzaga University and Liberty Lake.

In its fourth year, the study seeks to understand nesting declines, hunter harvest patterns and the birds’ use of urban and rural habitat, said Mikal Moore, state waterfowl specialist.

The roundup is timed during the molt. Since the adults can’t fly, the volunteers can herd the families into pens.  After the goslings are inspected and banded, they’re released.

“Goose nesting counts have been declining for over a decade in most rural survey areas, while complaints about urban geese have been rising,” Moore said. “This study will help us determine if urban birds are year-round residents or migratory, and to what extent they are hunted.”

Moore said urban goose numbers can rise dramatically when they do not migrate, or are not exposed to predators, hunting or other factors that normally limit populations. Geese may become habituated to urban areas that are closed to hunting or when people feed them, she said.

Some adult geese were fitted with white collars.

If you spot a goose with a white neck collar, report the codes, along with locations and dates, to the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Laboratory at (800) 327-BAND or online at

Biologists have banded 2,523 geese from eight Eastern Washington areas, Moore said. Of that number, 406 were observed with neck collars and 359 marked geese were taken by hunters.

“Several of the band returns came from as far away as northern Alberta and Saskatchewan, although most were local,” Moore said.

Rich Landers

Goat harasses hiker

PARKS – A mountain goat stalked and charged a hiker for more than a mile in Olympic National Park Tuesday.

A park goat gored and killed a hiker last year. That goat was killed by rangers.

Associated Press

Logan Pass looms

PARKS – Crews plowing Glacier National Park’s Going-to-the-Sun Road say heavy snowpack has put them almost a month behind schedule.

They may not reach Logan Pass until mid-July.

Rich Landers

Fish bypassing dam

FISHERIES – The new upstream fish ladder on the Clark Fork River at Montana’s Thompson Falls Dam has opened and apparently fish such as bull trout and rainbows have been moving freely past the structure since April.

Associated Press

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