Conservation Connection: Snow Geese

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(KPLR) - You may have seen or heard them around the St. Louis area.  They`re descending by the thousands right now.  We`re talking about snow geese.  Snow geese are normally around this time of year, but we`re seeing record numbers now.  Urban Wildlife Biologist Erin Shank shed some light on the situation.

Q.  What are snow geese?

  •  Snow geese are common in marshes, rivers, lakes and crop fields
  • This medium-sized goose has two color morphs, white and blue
  •  They spend the winter in Missouri, then go north to the Arctic tundra to nest

Q.  Why are we seeing so many right now?

  • They normally concentrate more in the western part of the state
  • Heavy snows in western MO are driving them here
  • They`re staying here for now because of heavy snow north of here

Q. Where can we see them?

  • Heaviest concentrations are in St. Charles and Lincoln Counties
  • For example, at last week`s count there were 7,000 on B.K. Leach Conservation area in Lincoln, Co., and an estimated 15,000 others in the vicinity
  • Also many sightings along Highway 79 between Lincoln and St. Charles Counties

Q. I understand a flock of thousands of them can be an amazing sight, but they`re also causing some problems in the Arctic.  What`s the story?

  • Snow geese are reproducing in very large numbers
  • Populations are growing to the point they are over browsing the tundra vegetation and upsetting the ecosystem

Q.  Is there something that can be done?

  • Hunting is one of the best tools to help control the population
  • Excellent habitat makes the confluence area a great place to hunt geese
  • The Federal government has issued a Light Geese Conservation Order allowing unlimited harvest of snow geese with the proper permit through April 30
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