Date: 2/10/19 6:10 am From: Joseph Neal <joeneal...> Subject: Canada Goose
Recovery and expansion of Canada Goose populations in Arkansas is welcomed by some and a source of problems – real or perceived -- for others. On February 8, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette published an article with details about a proposal to kill Canadas at Bentonville airport. Our expanding urbanism in Arkansas suits them. They like the same lakes, ponds, closely cut grass, golf courses and associated housing developments that we do. Our conversion of former prairie grasslands and wetlands to our own use fits them to a “T”. In 2012, Doug James wrote this column about Canadas for Northwest Arkansas Audubon Society Newsletter:
GEESE EVERYWHERE by Doug James (2012)
When pioneers reached the central US they found extensive grasslands and prairie wetlands, the Great Plains. This was home to big populations of large birds: Whooping Cranes, the largest crane, Trumpeter Swans, and the largest subspecies of the Canada Goose, the Giant Canada Goose. Subsequent conversion of the grasslands to agriculture had catastrophic adverse effects. Whooping Cranes were reduced to only16 before rehabilitation began, Trumpeter Swans disappeared except in northwestern mountains. Nine authors writing from 1930s to the 1960s declared the Giant Canada Goose extinct.
Then Harold Hanson, my classmate in graduate school at the University of Illinois, after being hired by Illinois Natural History Survey, discovered in 1962 Giant Canada Geese occupying a city park in Minnesota. Later he found residual populations in the Dakotas and adjacent Canada. This led to restoration efforts across the US.
Arkansas Game & Fish established a propagation site visible south of I-40 west of Russellville. The first geese in northwestern Arkansas wore neck bands from that facility. The operation was so successful the need was discontinued.
Most forms of Canada Geese migrate, but Giants stay year around. Also, they tolerate human disturbance more than the other subspecies. Cattle are grazers and so are geese, so pastures and parks are perfect. Golf courses provide a banquet set for geese.
This reestablishment is truly a marvelous success story, bringing a bird from the brink of extinction to its present abundance everywhere. We should really rejoice in this accomplishment and congratulate ourselves!