The population of giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima) breeding in eastern South Dakota has increased dramatically since reintroduction efforts began in the 1960s. May breeding population levels of giant Canada geese exceeded population management goals set by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) by the mid-1990s, and the population has continued to increase into the 2000s. This population increase was accompanied by an increase in goose-related conflicts such as crop depredation. In 1996, a September hunting season was implemented in select counties in eastern South Dakota in an effort to reduce the giant Canada goose population. After its implementation, some hunters and biologists were concerned that the early September season was causing Canada geese to disperse from areas open to hunting due to hunting pressure. Herein, we describe post-molt movements by geese, particularly in relation to the September hunting season. We caught Canada geese in 7 counties in eastern South Dakota during the summer molting period, 2000 to 2003. We attached VHF (n = 153) and satellite transmitters (n = 43) on adult female geese with broods. We monitored movements of marked geese weekly from July through the fall freezing period. For this study, we considered major movements any postmolt movement ≥40 km from the wetland in which the goose was banded prior to October 15. Forty-six percent of marked geese made major movements from July to September, and 43% moved during the first week of the September season, indicating that the season may have triggered their post-molt movement. Major movements were primarily in a northerly direction, and the longest documented post-molt movement was 474 km north. It appears that the onset of the September hunting season may have caused geese to move immediately before or during the first 10 days of the season. Post-molt movements prior to the September hunting season may simply have been a function of established, learned traditions, but the punctuated movement of geese during the opening weekend of the hunting season may have resulted from geese responding to the hunting season itself.
Dieter, Charles D.; Anderson, Bobby J.; Gleason, Jeffrey S.; Mammenga, Paul W.; and Vaa, Spencer
"Late Summer Movements by Giant Canada Geese in Relation to a September Hunting Season,"
Human–Wildlife Interactions: Vol. 4
, Article 10.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/hwi/vol4/iss2/10