Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Chen caerulescens

Snow geese are large waterfowl. They are most commonly associated with large ponds, lakes, and coastal wetland areas. Wetland areas with open water are required for safe refuge. Like most birds they are insectivorous as young but they have evolved as effective grazing herbivores as adults. Therefore, snow geese also require open grassland or agricultural fields in proximity to the wetlands needed for reproduction and resting. When the snow geese migrate in the fall the majority fly down the Central and Mississippi flyways and winter along the Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi coast. In recent years the number of snow geese in these flyways has increased dramatically.

Record snow goose populations threaten to eat themselves out of house and home on the ecologically fragile tundra of their Canadian breeding grounds. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the snow goose population rose almost 300 percent from 1969 to 1994 - from slightly less than 1 million to 2.7 million. And it continues to rise, with the latest estimates running at about 7 million. Such tremendous concentrations make life difficult for farmers in southwest Louisiana. When monster flocks of geese descend on a field, they can eat an enormous amount of grain and cause catastrophic damage.

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