Generally geese populations have increased massively in North America over the last few decades and are causing significant problems for other tundra species like shorebirds as geese take over their breeding habitats. It would actually be better to greatly reduce most populations.
The management and creation of habitat for them in hunting areas is certainly one reason for this increase. So goose hunting hasn't had any negative effect on their populations - quite the opposite. There are a few subpopulations like Tule Whitefronts (not the ones that occur down here) that are rarer, but most populations are doing well (e.g. Aleutian Cackling Geese).
Swans and geese are also much more prone to change their wintering areas as these are learnt not innately programmed into them. For example minima Cackling Geese are now much rarer than formerly in California but that this is simply because they shifted their wintering range north into Oregon.
There is isn't much incentive for Whitefronts or any other geese to return to Southern California in numbers because:
1. Winters are now generally much milder in OR/WA than 30 years ago so no reason to travel further south
2. Geese like to feed in large fields with grass/grain, extensive marshes etc. Southern California is pretty much solidly urban so lacks habitat. The large coastal marshes they used to inhabit are all gone.
From: <sbcobirding...> [mailto:<sbcobirding...>] On Behalf Of Robert van de Hoek <robertvandehoek...> [sbcobirding]
Sent: Monday, September 25, 2017 2:40 PM
To: <sbcobirding...>; Rebecca Fagan Coulter
Subject: [EXTERNAL] Re: [sbcobirding] More geese
I am so glad you reported these 6 rare geese and I am inspired to write a few thoughts about the current status and a hopeful future.
These geese you observed were fortunate to have escaped the gun hunters in Klamath-Tule Lake area as they entered California from Oregon on their southerly migration. I wish to accelerate the recovery of this goose species into urbanized Southern California at our urban parks with lakes and lagoons and grasslands of golf courses and ball fields.
Perhaps these 6 geese are a mother, father, and 4 young? Or are they 6 young birds and both parents are dead?
Or two families with 2 young in each family? Or perhaps, the two parents with 2 generations of their young geese following them?
Any photos to share with us?
I looked at Grinnell & Miller (1944), Distribution of the Birds of California, alongside Garrett & Dunn, Birds of Southern California for status and trends of this goose. Clearly there has been a severe decline for this goose with practically no winter abundance in coastal Southern California from about 1940s to the present.
The flock you saw ought to have been 600 birds or 60 birds, in other words an order of magnitude or two higher.
I attended California Department Fish & Commissioner attended CDFW wildlife meeting and learned that a lot of hunting occurs for this goose occurs in the Klamath-Tule Lake region of northeastern California. I spoke up about the desire for this goose species to recover to our urban coastal counties in winter, where they will be protected from hunters, nurtured with supplemental feeding of grain if needed, and abundant lakes to sequester for night-time safety.
Robert Jan van de Hoek
Los Angeles, California
Subject: [sbcobirding] More geese
Date: Monday, September 25, 2017, 11:22 AM
After this morning's birding class at the Bird Refuge, a flock of six Greater White-fronted Goose flew overhead and landed in the lagoon opposite to the parking area. I heard them calling as they flew over, which is what alerted me to them.