Population Dynamics of the Canaan Valley West Virginia Canada Goose Population

The Canaan Valley, West Virginia, Canada goose (Branta canadensis) flock is a discrete population that resulted from birds released in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This flock is the only flock in West Virginia that regularly migrates out of the state during winter and returns for nesting. It remains discrete even though other populations exist within 27 km to the east and west. This is the southernmost migratory flock of geese in the eastern United States. Helicopter surveys were conducted from 1982 to 1993 to estimate population size, and banding was conducted from 1977 to 1993 to examine demography and movements of this flock. The Canaan Valley goose population increased from <100 birds in 1982 to >500 by 1991. We banded 679 geese (379 adults and 300 juveniles) between 1977 and 1993. Eighty recoveries of geese banded in Canaan Valley were reported to the Bird Banding Lab: 52 from West Virginia, 9 from New York, 6 from North Carolina, 5 from Virginia, and 8 from 5 other states. Primary harvest pressure on this flock is within Canaan Valley and migratory movements away from the Valley are multi-directional, with North Carolina a major wintering site. Direct recovery rates averaged 4.8% for adults and 1.3% for juveniles. Based on band returns, juveniles were less vulnerable to harvest than were adults. Low recovery rates indicate that Canaan Valley geese experience low hunting pressure and/or mortality allowing for steady population growth.

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ID
22063