Graduation Date

Fall 2023

Document Type

Thesis

Program

Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Wildlife

Committee Chair Name

Jeff Black

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Matthew Johnson

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Ho Yi Wan

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Name

Kyle Spragens

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Subject Categories

Wildlife

Abstract

After a 15-year interval in research, spatial and temporal patterns of the Aleutian cackling goose during spring staging was assessed again in 2022. During my study, 3,389 goose flocks were recorded in Arcata Bottoms staging site, 1 January to 21 April 2022, amounting to an estimated total of 2,248,512 goosedays, which was 336.8% higher than 2007 estimates of 667,485 goosedays. Geese continued to use pastures with a wide range of landscape characteristics primarily represented by livestock grazing practices. Goose use was greater than availability on beef-cattle fields early in the season and dairy-cow fields later in the season. Human disturbances were infrequent throughout the study, but more often during the late-season-hunt. Goose use on land managed by State and City agencies (aka Alternative Foraging Areas; AFAs) was less than predicted, based on availability, except when geese arrived in early January, which coincided with opening of the waterfowl hunting season. AFA fields contained 9% of all observed goosedays, 90% of which were located within the City of Arcata’s Jacoby Creek – Gannon Slough Wildlife Area, which was managed with livestock and closed to hunting. The late-season-hunt shifted few geese onto AFAs as seen in 2007 when disturbance of flocks was more frequent and intense (Spragens et al. 2015). Goose flocks were closer to roads and structures in 2022 compared to 2007. In 2022, large field size, short distance to roads, and presence of disturbance were important characteristics in predicting goose presence and flock size. In 2022, rate of fat accumulation (determined by a field index of the birds’ abdominal profiles) was lower than previously determined in 2004, likely due to increased goose numbers and competition. Management efforts could focus on enhancing existing AFAs to provide disturbance-free habitat that supports the bird’s shifting requirements for food while avoiding disturbances.

Citation Style

Journal of Wildlife Management

Included in

Ornithology Commons

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