Snow goose limits revisited.....

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Snow goose limits revisited.....

Postby PinTeal » Mon Apr 17, 2006 10:16 pm

Well, I broke down and emailed the DFG on the limits for snow geese asking why it was still so conservative despite the high numbers here. Keep in mind I was not asking for a conservation season (spring hunt), but questioning the 4 bird limit. I got this as a response:

Jeff:

Thanks for your beginning kind words. Wintering white geese in CA actually are comprised of 2 main stocks of snow geese + Ross' geese (a separate species). In North America over the last 20-25 years we've been managing geese more and more on a stock-specific basis. We have management plans for most stocks, and for the Pacific Flyway, some of these plans are on the internet at www.pacificflyway.gov. These plans contain population objectives for each stock, as well as harvest management guidelines. While Snow geese from the western Canadian Arctic are doing well, and Ross' geese super well, we also host snow geese from Wrangel Island, Russia. Those geese are just under their management plan objective, but they were trending upward enough to warrant some liberalization last year. Interestingly, while measures of the breeding populations of western Arctic snows and Ross' geese are up (way up in some areas) the number of white geese (both snow and Ross') in winter in CA is actually about stable over the long run.

Hope that helps


I read over the information and fired this one back at him:
Dan,

I sincerely appreciate your extremely prompt response; it was truly impressive! To say I read the entire 40 pages in depth would not be entirely honest, but I did go through the much better half in detail, and all of it was looked over. In my last e-mail I told you I was no biologist or professional on snow geese, but I have done some research on the snow geese and still have a few questions in regards to it.

Somewhere along my research, I read the WISG do not migrate on flyways to the East of the Pacific flyway. If this is the case, the highest majority of Wrangel Island Snow geese are taken here in the Pacific flyway, correct? To me, this means we have the largest impact on the WISG population. According to "The Council Review Draft" for the WISG, it says the 2004 Snow goose harvest report (not limited to WISG exclusively, but rather all snow geese) was approximately 36,000 birds. In the same report, it says the approximate population of WISG is 117,500; the same population as the year before. In addition to the WISG population, the report states there are 450,000 birds in the Central Valley when you add in the Artic geese coming from the other flyways (there is no mention of the addition of Ross’ geese in that figure). The report literally says, "Some are Wrangel Birds" (page 29). If we were to assume all 117,500 WISG migrated to the Central Valley, this would leave us with 332,500 snow geese in the Central Valley that were not WISG. This data and scenario only reflect the Central Valley; WISG do not meet up with Artic Snows until Summer Lake and begin settling down for winter from that point south until few numbers get to the Central Valley where the majority of geese are Artic Snows and ross’, not WISG. As stated in the report ninety percent of the 43,000 geese on Lower Klamath are Ross and not WISG, how many of the geese in California can be WISG if that few are in Klamath? Realistically, how many WISG are taken in California as opposed to the artic geese, blue geese, and Ross geese in the reported 36,000?

Looking at appendix A. it shows the WISG population is at a seventy four year high, with a much higher number of breeding geese in that population than previous years. I suspect this means the WISG are getting older and the geese killed are young, uneducated birds in states other than California? Moreover, there were more nests with a higher percentage of successful nests, and a higher clutch size in 2005 than in the same 31-year period! And let’s not forget older geese tend to persuade flocks of geese out of hunter’s spreads leading us to believe the older geese are going to encourage the populations to further expand.

California has had the three-goose limit since 1981 and was finally raised to four in the 2005-2006 hunting season. In this period, the WISG population has fluctuated, but has exploded in numbers in the past five years growing over twenty thousand geese! Mind you, these are only the "protected" WISG growing in population being accounted for, not the Ross or Artic Snow Goose populations that are included in, and make up the overwhelming population of the 450,000 geese noted by the report in the central valley. Speaking of which, the report does not address the Ross’ and Artic populations that are undoubtedly growing as well, quite possibly a result of California’s conservative limits. As stated in the report ninety percent of the 43,000 geese on Lower Klamath are Ross and not WISG, how many of the geese in California can be WISG if that few are in Klamath?

I understand the bind you are in; preserve the population, yet let it grow slightly, and ultimately manage the population. It really seems to be opposite directions, yet oddly enough, all reaching for the same goals. However, as it seems to me, if California has minimal impact compared to other states on the WISG while there is a dramatic increase in the Ross goose population in California why would California hunters not be able to take more geese? Other states are granted a conservation season in order to combat the excessive Artic snow goose populations, yet Californians sit idle watching those same geese (Artic) fly in California along with the Ross's. It has been said that the Conservation season was granted too late to the states that have it in order to manage their goose population. Can it be said the Ross' goose population is being allowed to go wild because of the misconception we are preserving the WISG population—a population that is not in California with the huge numbers it once was?

Again, I appreciate your help, desire, commitment to the state’s game, and your taking the time to speak with me.

Very Truly Yours,

Jeff Given


What do you guys think?


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Postby duckjumper » Wed Apr 19, 2006 12:56 pm

Nice reply. Very well thought-out. Have you received a response?
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Postby PinTeal » Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:39 pm

Thanks for the good comment. The response consumed a good few hours after I read through the report and got my thoughts down on paper. Really my response was not all that thought out. All of their information they gave in the report was in my response. It is really sad to see how bad the numbers are skewed...as I pointed out.
In any case, I did recieve a response that I still need to respond to. I may just start that now ;) Here is the DFG's response:

Jeff: I can't match your email length!

You missed a couple of points and here's some more tidbits for your consideration:

1. WISG winter in both the Frazer-Skagit area of British Columbia AND the Central Valley (CV) of CA - they don't all winter in the CV; which means that MOST of the snow geese in the CV are NOT WISG; however, the number os white geese in the CV is more or less static (slight upward trend over the long term) (see more below)
2. WISG spring populations were once as high as 140,000; the goal is 120,000
3. The current spring population is just under 120,000
4. Generally-speaking, when a stock is below goal we constrain harvest, increase harvest when its above goal
5. "White goose" numbers in CA are comprised of a) WISG; b) Western Canadian Arctic (WCA) Snow geese and c) Ross' geese
6. The WISG draft plan you read is for that population only; as I said, we manage by stock when we can
7. "white goose" numbers in CA are pretty much static, except for the shift from the Klamath Basin into the Central Valley; this means that although WCA snow geese are increasing and so are Ross' geese, the number of them coming to CA is not changing. For ex. Ross' geese used to be found ONLY in CA; now they are in all 4 flyways; we know from neck collar data that WCA snow geese are shifting to the Central Flyway; so there really isn't an increase in white geese in CA. The special conservation seasons elsewhere in NA are directed at other stocks of snow geese; not the stocks that come to CA
8. There's no way to tell a WISG from a WCA snow goose in the Central Valley (or in the hunters bag)
9. Even though Ross' geese comprise about 40% of the white goose population in winter in CA; the harvest of white geese is about 70% snow geese; so any liberalization in white goose limits kills more snow geese (the harvest is slightly disproportionate), of which a portion of that increased harvest would be WISG which are below goal. At the current time, DFG does not want to implement species-specific hunting regulations (requiring hunters to identify Ross' geese from snow geese in a hunting situation).
10. While I almost hate to bring it up....in several places in the Pacific Flyway, we have "constraining stocks". In OR, Dusky Canada geese, which number I think about 25,000, are mixed in with other subspecies and stocks of Canada geese, so they have quota zones in which all Canada goose hunting is shut down if a specified number of Dusky's are killed and hunters are required to take and pass a goose ID test and bring all their birds to check stations; you're probably aware of the white-fronted goose area in the CV designed to limit the harvest of Tule white-fronted geese, which number maybe 10,000, so this unfortunately constrains the harvest of the much more abundant Pacific white-fronts, and so, as long as WISG are below goal, that will limit our ability to increase snow goose limits in the CV.


Hope that helps
Dan


I'll post my response when I get done


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Postby PinTeal » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:19 pm

Exactly how my response was written (well, gotta spell check really fast)



Jeff: I can't match your email length!

Dan, you’re awesome; thank you very much for the responses! If I am bugging you and holding you up from your work, please, let me know. Here is what I am seeing, and how I am seeing it in response to your letter.
You missed a couple of points and here's some more tidbits for your consideration:

1. WISG winter in both the Frazer-Skagit area of British Columbia AND the Central Valley (CV) of CA - they don't all winter in the CV; which means that MOST of the snow geese in the CV are NOT WISG; however, the number os white geese in the CV is more or less static (slight upward trend over the long term) (see more below)

I understand WISG do not winter in California as much as they used to. In fact, according to the report in 2000 it was estimated that only 40% of the WISG were wintering in California—a number apparently on an annual decline. At best, there are 47,000 WISG in the entire state of California. In the report, it says there are 450,000 snow geese in the Central valley, including WISG. Assuming the entire 47,000 WISG wintering in all of California are in only the Central Valley, that leaves us with 403,000 snow geese that are not WISG (in the Central Valley alone). BC, Washington, and Alaska are the only states in the flyway with exclusively with WISG. In effect, every single goose taken from those states is a WISG.

I understand the US does not have authority to control BC’s limits on birds, but why does they allow a five bird limit when, statistically, they have a higher impact on the WISG population? Washington is allowed the same limit as California…and like BC has a population made up of WISG exclusively.
2. WISG spring populations were once as high as 140,000; the goal is 120,000
I understand this goal, and hope we can make it. The population is on the rise, and we have a new hatch getting ready. Survival rates are higher up, clutch size is up, everything is up from last year when we were rewarded an extra bird. How about the Ross’ goose and Artic Snow goose, I suspect those numbers up as well.
3. The current spring population is just under 120,000

Again, I understand this. According to the report there are 95,8000 WISG of breeding age. These geese make up 47,900 nests. The successful nest rate is at 82.5%; every year it has been over 82% the total population of geese has risen. However, in addition to this good news, there are also a larger clutch (4.7) and the number of broods per pair—3.7. The last time these numbers were identical and the successful nest rate was at 80% was in 1978 when the population of WISG exploded almost 20,000! With almost twice as many breeders, why should we not expect the same results? Back to the numbers for 2005, assuming every goosing survived, there would be 145,860 new WISG to the population. Of course it is neither possible or desirable for all the geese to survive, so we can factor in whatever the survival rate is. In this case I will pick a 30% survival rate in which case there would be 43,758 new WISG into the flock—less than the overall number of geese California and Oregon kill, which consists of mostly Artic snows and Ross’!
4. Generally-speaking, when a stock is below goal we constrain harvest, increase harvest when its above goal
Since there is no set goal for the Ross’ geese, we acknowledge there to be a problem with Ross’ here in the Central Valley (along with artic snow geese), are we protecting the WISG at the expense of letting the other populations run rampant?
5. "White goose" numbers in CA are comprised of a) WISG; b) Western Canadian Arctic (WCA) Snow geese and c) Ross' geese
Dan, again, I understand this; but as the data shows, there are, at best, 47,000 WISG in the entire state. This leaves 403,000 Ross’ and artic snows here in the Central Valley (not the entire state, just the Central Valley) to be taken. Of these 403,000 snow geese, you acknowledged there to be 40% of these to be Ross geese (your ninth notation). Ultimately, there are 161,200 Ross’ geese and 241,800 Artic snow geese (not the entire state, just the Central Valley)! With only 40% of the flock of WISG migrating to California these days, there are 47,000 WISG in the entire state. The law of averages would dictate there to be 1 in every 5.1 snow geese taken would be a WISG—this is not taking into account the flock of 161,200 Ross’ geese in the valley being taken as well. Realistically, we are looking at 1 in every 7 geese taken being a WISG.
6. The WISG draft plan you read is for that population only; as I said, we manage by stock when we can
Dan, it appears to me you are not managing by stock, but rather, the entire white goose population. As stated in my response to number 5, the law of averages dictates the population of WISG is not considerably harmed in California. Especially when considering every snow goose taken in BC, Alaska, and Washington to be a WISG. This hardly makes sense to allow Washington and California like limits. In order to have the same potential impact on WISG as Washington, we would need to have a 28 snow goose limit here in California. If you want to protect the WISG, limit the numbers allowed to be taken in states with only WISG.
7. "white goose" numbers in CA are pretty much static, except for the shift from the Klamath Basin into the Central Valley; this means that although WCA snow geese are increasing and so are Ross' geese, the number of them coming to CA is not changing. For ex. Ross' geese used to be found ONLY in CA; now they are in all 4 flyways; we know from neck collar data that WCA snow geese are shifting to the Central Flyway; so there really isn't an increase in white geese in CA. The special conservation seasons elsewhere in NA are directed at other stocks of snow geese; not the stocks that come to CA
Dan, white goose numbers in California are on the rise. The data prove it; unless the report is inaccurate. The migration of WISG to California is decreasing, yet snow goose numbers as a whole are increasing in California. The Ross’ goose population is rapidly expanding as are the artic snow geese. If you take away from one source (the WISG) and numbers continue to rise, there is only one answer…more input from somewhere. Since the report shows data the WISG are not coming to California as they once were, the answer is Ross and artic snows, no? And aren’t the conservations seasons in the Midwest targeting the artic snow geese, the same 241,800 that are in the Central Valley? I am not advocating a conservation season in California by any means, but I would like to see a some more geese in the bag limit.
8. There's no way to tell a WISG from a WCA snow goose in the Central Valley (or in the hunters bag)
I understand this. This is why we need to use numbers that we do know and plug them in. Every number I used to get the number of WISG, Artic snow geese, and Ross’ are all from the report. We know there to be a set number of WISG, we know how many come to California, we know how many Ross’ are in the Central Valley, and we know how many total geese are in the Central Valley. It’s really easy to plug in numbers and get concrete numbers out. If we cannot tell a WISG from and artic snow, how do we know if California has ever killed a WISG? Could all the damage done to the population be from the states that are known to have killed WISG? I am not proposing California has not killed any WISG, but the numbers say we kill a less percentage than other states.
9. Even though Ross' geese comprise about 40% of the white goose population in winter in CA; the harvest of white geese is about 70% snow geese; so any liberalization in white goose limits kills more snow geese (the harvest is slightly disproportionate), of which a portion of that increased harvest would be WISG which are below goal. At the current time, DFG does not want to implement species-specific hunting regulations (requiring hunters to identify Ross' geese from snow geese in a hunting situation).
Please see my responses to 3, 5, and 6
10. While I almost hate to bring it up....in several places in the Pacific Flyway, we have "constraining stocks". In OR, Dusky Canada geese, which number I think about 25,000, are mixed in with other subspecies and stocks of Canada geese, so they have quota zones in which all Canada goose hunting is shut down if a specified number of Dusky's are killed and hunters are required to take and pass a goose ID test and bring all their birds to check stations; you're probably aware of the white-fronted goose area in the CV designed to limit the harvest of Tule white-fronted geese, which number maybe 10,000, so this unfortunately constrains the harvest of the much more abundant Pacific white-fronts, and so, as long as WISG are below goal, that will limit our ability to increase snow goose limits in the CV.
Dan, you obviously know my feelings by now. After reading through the study, my own research, as well as seeing your responses I feel even more confident California is blessed with the resources to be able to take more geese. If we were switched with Washington, I would understand it…but as it stands, California has enough geese from different areas to dwarf the small population of WISG.

Very Truly Yours,
Jeff Given
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Postby duckjumper » Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:39 pm

Add this to your debate: The feds and CA just allowed a recreational king salmon season based off similar reasoning to yours, Pinteal.

They basically said it would be stupid to trash a whole season for a VERY healthy Sacramento River salmon population when the scientists estimate they'll also kill about 300 Klamath kings (the ones that are in trouble) Think Spock in Start Trek: "The needs of the many outweight the needs of the few. Or the one."

So if the bird people acted like the fish people, we'd get an extra goose in the bag because yes, we might kill a few Wrangel Island snows (damn Russians! :mrgreen: ) but we're FAR more likely to smoke a Ross' or an Arctic snow...

My $.02

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Postby DuckFan » Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:40 pm

Dan is the most knowledgeable guy there is regarding the birds here in CA. Great guy and a supporter of all us hunters. I know he looks at limits very closely each year and has made his recommendations based on science as well as using his experience (sometimes we don’t always have the 'science'). He can be trusted completely.

It does not surprise me how he responds to you so quickly and completely…always has to anyone that has a question. Good for you - for writing to him.

Don't forget that we also have 'politics' that play a role. Getting the extra geese this past year was a huge advance for all of us. just my 2 cents
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Postby PinTeal » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:53 pm

DuckFan wrote:Dan is the most knowledgeable guy there is regarding the birds here in CA. Great guy and a supporter of all us hunters. I know he looks at limits very closely each year and has made his recommendations based on science as well as using his experience (sometimes we don’t always have the 'science'). He can be trusted completely.

It does not surprise me how he responds to you so quickly and completely…always has to anyone that has a question. Good for you - for writing to him.

Don't forget that we also have 'politics' that play a role. Getting the extra geese this past year was a huge advance for all of us. just my 2 cents


What do you make of my argument? It is based solely on the information they have provided me...and seems to contradict some of what they are saying. Numbers can be skewed easily...and it really seems to me as if they are being misconstrued.

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Postby DuckFan » Thu Apr 20, 2006 6:27 pm

I certainly understand where you are coming from.

I think we were fortunate in getting additional white geese in the bag last season. The problem for wildlife management on white geese sounds like it is very similar to the Tule White front goose issue – where they enforce a closure in order to be sure that the Tule Goose sub species of White Fronts does not take a beating.

Ask any hunter that deals with that closure – especially the guides and you will hear them being very upset. This issue has been going on for years.

Dan said: “Even though Ross' geese comprise about 40% of the white goose population in winter in CA; the harvest of white geese is about 70% snow geese; so any liberalization in white goose limits kills more snow geese (the harvest is slightly disproportionate), of which a portion of that increased harvest would be WISG which are below goal.”

They will alwsy be cautious if there is a possibility of WISG geese being harvested- just like with Tule Geese IMO.

That sounds very much like the Tule issue (in a sense). Unless it can be scientifically proven that we are not hurting the population of the Tule Goose…and or the Wrangle Island Snows during our season by a more liberal bag limit, I was just happy to see what they provided last year.

I may be wrong, but I think that is the main crux of the issue – if I am reading all of this correctly.
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Postby PinTeal » Thu Apr 20, 2006 7:04 pm

The problem is there is not scientific study that can tell us which geese we are shooting. The way I see it, averages are the only way we can estimate. Furthermore, as I pointed out, it is Washington that is having a
definite impact on the WISG, not California. Dan never wrote me back today. I think he is going to the drawing board and is going to come back tomorrow and thump me. Wish me luck!

:thumbsdown:
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Postby DuckFan » Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:11 pm

PinTeal wrote:The problem is there is not scientific study that can tell us which geese we are shooting. The way I see it, averages are the only way we can estimate. Furthermore, as I pointed out, it is Washington that is having a
definite impact on the WISG, not California. Dan never wrote me back today. I think he is going to the drawing board and is going to come back tomorrow and thump me. Wish me luck!

:thumbsdown:
Jeff Given



I'm sure Dan will get back to you at some point.

I just look at this as being similar to the Tule goose issue - maybe it is not, but thats how I kind of see it. Like you said - no scientific way to know for sure what goose we are shooting. In that case, and with politics also playing a role ( like it or not not), I think we find our sleves in this situaiton.

I do wish you luck!

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snows

Postby goosecaller dude » Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:11 am

Good job keep firing, I live up here at the boarder, in Oregon yeh the have a test on the dusky geese so in northern Or. they only hunt cacklers, alot and in Cal we had a closure, til recent. I talked to DFG in Or. I was told if there is a spring hunt it would take away from our 107 days of hunting, the season would be the first week of March. the birds dont show up until the third week, so why have a season? good planning!
I know people in other states that they just added days of hunting just for the snows, also Oregon has a special honker hunt in sept. that doesn't take away from the 107 days. I don't think they want us to get birds they just want our cash.
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