Effects of the light goose conservation order on non-target waterfowl distribution during spring migration

Wildlife Biology
By: , and 

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Abstract

The Light Goose Conservation Order (LGCO) was initiated in 1999 to reduce mid-continent populations of light geese (lesser snow geese Chen caerulescens and Ross's geese C. rossi). However, concern about potential for LGCO activities (i.e. hunting activities) to negatively impact non-target waterfowl species during spring migration in the Rainwater Basin (RWB) of Nebraska prompted agency personnel to limit the number of hunt days each week and close multiple public wetlands to LGCO activities entirely. To evaluate the effects of the LGCO in the RWB, we quantified waterfowl density at wetlands open and closed to LGCO hunting and recorded all hunter encounters during springs 2011 and 2012. We encountered a total of 70 hunting parties on 22 study wetlands, with over 90% of these encounters occurring during early season when the majority of waterfowl used the RWB region. We detected greater overall densities of dabbling ducks Anas spp., as well as for mallards A. platyrhynchos and northern pintails A. acuta on wetlands closed to the LGCO. We detected no effects of hunt day in the analyses of dabbling duck densities. We detected no differences in mean weekly dabbling duck densities among wetlands open to hunting, regardless of weekly or cumulative hunting encounter frequency throughout early season. Additionally, hunting category was not a predictor for the presence of greater white-fronted geese Anser albifronsin a logistic regression model. Given that dabbling duck densities were greater on wetlands closed to hunting, providing wetlands free from hunting disturbance as refugia during the LGCO remains an important management strategy at migration stopover sites. However, given that we did not detect an effect of hunt day or hunting frequency on dabbling duck density, our results suggest increased hunting frequency at sites already open to hunting would likely have minimal impacts on the distribution of non-target waterfowl species using the region for spring staging.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of the light goose conservation order on non-target waterfowl distribution during spring migration
Series title Wildlife Biology
DOI 10.2981/wlb.00063
Volume 21
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Nordic Board for Wildlife Research
Publisher location Lund, Sweden
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Atlanta
Description 10 p.
First page 88
Last page 97
Time Range Start 2011-01-01
Time Range End 2012-03-31
Country United States
State Nebraska
Other Geospatial Rainwater Basin
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N