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Mid-Continent Snows


Mid-Content snow geese are the most abundant of all snow geese, with an annual population index approaching 3 million birds. The objective for this population is 1-1.5 million birds as measured by the annual mid-December wintering ground survey. This survey provides an index, or measurement that is repeatable and therefore comparable from one year to the next. It is not a complete count of all birds.

Recent surveys indicate a population which is twice what managers believe is desirable. In reality, the population may number 6 million or more birds. Data we have shows this population has grown about four percent per year during the past 10 years. Some groups are increasing at an even faster rate.

Unlike Canada geese that establish relatively large territories for nesting, snow geese nest in large colonies, ranging from a few hundred to more than 100,000 birds. These colonies are generally located in the more fertile areas of the arctic - on coastal river deltas and sometimes around inland lakes. Because most of the arctic is rock or water with little in the way of significant vegetation - these areas are oases which provide significant food resources (grasses and sedges) to growing goslings and molting adults.

We know the most about snow geese that nest on the west coast of Hudson Bay, especially at LaPerouse Bay and surrounding areas east of Churchill. LaPerouse Bay is the site of an extensive study initiated by Dr. Fred Cooke in 1968. Dr. Robert Rockwell and other researchers are continuing and expanding this long-term study. The Central Flyway Council , of which North Dakota is a member, provides significant funding for this work. This study has produced much of what is known about snow goose ecology and the arctic ecosystem on which they depend.

The LaPerouse Bay population has increased at eight percent per year for at least the last 30 years. Only 2000 pairs nested at LaPerouse Bay in 1968. By 1990, the colony had expanded to more than 22,500 pairs.


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