The snow goose, a conservation success story, is beginning to worry scientists for the impact its rapidly-growing population is having on fragile ecosystems.
In the early 1900s, only 3,000 snow geese were estimated to be left. In recent years, a population explosion has seen their numbers top 15 million. This growth can be attributed to two factors that cause harm to most species: climate change and habitat loss. Melting snow in the geese’s Arctic breeding grounds is providing more food and nesting sites, while, to the south, destruction of marshland is pushing the birds into farmers’ fields, where a diet of grain and corn is keeping them well-fed.
While once something to celebrate, a ballooning snow goose population can be problematic. Banks Island, in the Beaufort Sea, and the Fraser River Estuary, in southern B.C., are both expected to see the arrival of more migrating snow geese this year than their ecosystems can handle.
A possible solution is increasing the snow goose hunt in affected areas. However, this won’t work in areas where there are too few hunters and too many geese. The snow goose represents a strange consequence of warming temperatures, a species thriving despite, or because of, changing environments.
A shark out of water