Day 6: Six Geese a Laying
Snow Geese are one of the most abundant species of waterfowl in North America. Once protected in the early 1900s after their numbers dropped to low levels, the species had fully recovered by the 1970s. Snow Goose populations are now considered by some to be too high. Their huge flocks are an impressive sight during the spring and fall migrations, but these flocks run into conflict with humans because of their tendency to overfeed cropland and habitats important to other species.
Snow geese are commonly affected by seasonal outbreaks of avian cholera. The bacterial disease can kill large numbers of birds very quickly once an outbreak is established, as was seen in a March 2015 outbreak in Idaho that killed over 2000 Snow Geese.
CWHC Western/Northern has investigated avian cholera outbreaks over the years. In 2015 near Rosetown, Saskatchewan they received a report from a member of the public about dead geese, CWHC staff notified Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment of the report. Ted Glass, Conservation Officer based out of Kindersley, SK, visited the site to investigate. He collected and submitted 78 geese for examination and testing, a combination of Ross’s, Snow, and Greater White-fronted Geese. Avian cholera was confirmed shortly thereafter as the cause of the outbreak.