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1 February 2008 Movements and Survival of Molt Migrant Canada Geese From Southern Michigan
David R. Luukkonen, Harold H. Prince, Richard C. Mykut
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We studied movements and survival of 250 female giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima) marked during incubation with either satellite-monitored platform transmitting terminals or very high frequency radiotransmitters at 27 capture areas in southern Michigan, USA, in 2000–2003. We destroyed nests of 168 radiomarked females by removing eggs after day 14 of incubation, and we left nests of 82 incubating hens undisturbed after capture and marking. Of females whose nests we experimentally destroyed, 80% subsequently migrated from breeding areas to molt remiges in Canada. Among 82 nests left undisturbed, 37 failed due to natural causes and 51% of those females departed. Migration incidence of birds that nested in urban parks was low (23%) compared with migration incidence of birds that nested in other classes of land use (87%). Departure of females from their breeding areas began during the second and third weeks of May, and most females departed during the last week of May and first week of June. Based on apparent molting locations of 227 marked geese, birds either made long-distance migratory movements >900 km, between latitudes 51° and 64° N, or they remained on breeding areas. Molting locations for 132 migratory geese indicated 4 primary destinations in Canada: Western Ungava Peninsula and offshore islands, Cape Henrietta Maria, Northeast James Bay and offshore islands, and Belcher Islands, Hudson Bay, Canada. Following molt of remiges, Canada geese began to return to their former nesting areas from 20 August through 3 September, with 37% arriving on or before 15 September and 75% arriving on or before 1 October. Migration routes of geese returning to spring breeding areas were relatively indirect compared with direct routes taken to molting sites. Although overall survival from May through November was 0.81 (95% CI: 0.74–0.88), survival of migratory geese marked on breeding sites where birds could be hunted was low (0.60; 95% CI: 0.42–0.75) compared with high survival of birds that remained resident where hunting was restricted (0.93; 95% CI: 0.84–0.97). Nest destruction can induce molt migration, increase hunting mortality of geese returning from molting areas, and reduce human–goose conflicts, but managers also should consider potential impacts of increasing numbers of molt migrants on populations of subarctic nesting Canada geese.

David R. Luukkonen, Harold H. Prince, and Richard C. Mykut "Movements and Survival of Molt Migrant Canada Geese From Southern Michigan," Journal of Wildlife Management 72(2), 449-462, (1 February 2008).
Published: 1 February 2008

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