The exploding population of Ross Snow Geese
Today’s Edmonton Journal carried a Canadian Press article (p. A10) that explains that the population of Ross’ Snow Geese has grown to such large proportions (two million) that it is denuding large areas of its habitat in the North.
The article expresses hopes that the population of Ross’ Snow Geese is still small enough so that it can be brought under control by human hunters. The species was declared overabundant in 1999, meaning that hunters are permitted to shoot them spring through fall, after it had been brought close to the verge of extinction in the 1930s. (See also http://www.ottawacitizen.com/technology/Ross+geese+stripping+North+vegetation+scientists/8568295/story.html )
The Daily Mail website carries a photo series that provides a better impression of what the problem is that has wildlife service officials worried: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2346886/Bird-blizzard-More-million-snow-geese-blot-sky-make-epic-journey-Arctic-tundra.html
Mind you, upon looking closer, it is quite apparent that the “shed feathers” are evidence of a coyote having fed on a Ross Snow Goose that he caught and killed. The traces of blood left from the feeding are quite obvious. Birds that lose their feathers through the annual moulting do not leave them in bunches tinged with blood. Besides, geese on migration do not moult. Ross’ Snow Geese moult where they nest, in the North, not in Missouri.
That may also be an indication of what kept the numbers of Ross’ Snows Geese in check before human hunters brought their number down to a few thousand in the 1930s. It seems that the Canadian Press article in today’s Edmonton Journal is not taking all of the causes of checks and balances of the Ross’ Snow Geese population into account. It is never wise to focus only on the human influence when trying to understand the workings of Nature.