Loss of snow geese concerns resident
By STEPH TAHTINEN
Mt. Pleasant News
Henry County resident Steve Wilson wants the snow geese to come back to Iowa.
Wilson asked to be put on the Henry County Conservation Board’s agenda for Monday night to discuss the loss of the snow geese that historically migrated through this area in the fall.
“About 10 years ago, we lost the snow geese in eastern Iowa,” said Wilson. “Now the problem that we used to have just in eastern Iowa has spread across the entire state. We don’t have a fall snow goose population in Iowa now of any consequence.”
Wilson emphasized that he was speaking about the fall migration of snow geese, not the spring migration. Though some of the birds may be the same, it is a different group, he noted.
“The ones I’m concerned about are the geese I used to see as a kid. The geese where we would have a few thousand that would land out here in the fields north of Mt. Pleasant,” said Wilson.
Wilson noted that often the loss of snow geese is attributed to two factors: over hunting by humans or that the geese have drifted west to a better habitat.
“Generally there is a lot of discussion about what all the contributing factors are that move these geese,” said Wilson. “I’ve never heard anybody say that the geese go into areas where there is higher hunting pressure and less food. Nobody ever says that.”
In an effort to help increase the number of snow geese moving through the area, 10 years ago Wilson began speaking with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the DNR, asking them to consider closing the snow geese season.
“We’re still in a position that if we close it, we might be able to pull the clocks back and maintain and expand on the tradition, and then in the future have a snow goose population that’s here for the trips to DeSoto Bend and is here for the hunters out north of Mt. Pleasant,” said Wilson.
In response to Wilson, Board Member George Jaques questioned whether curtailing the hunting season would really have an effect because if there are not that many geese migrating through the area, there would not be that many hunters, either.
“Curtailing the hunting season in the fall, I don’t understand how that’s going to change anything if you don’t have hunters out there now,” said Jaques.
Board Member John Klopfenstein commented that the snow geese may be taking a different route than they used to because snow geese will fly out of their way to avoid storms.
“They will avoid a snow storm or any time of storm. That’s what making me think they migrated over a couple of states one direction or the other because of our goofy weather patterns we’ve been having, but that’s my opinion,” said Klopfenstein.
Wilson noted that there was not much the conservation board could do, but he wanted to bring the information to their attention
“If you’re inclined to do something, I’d be more than happy to provide you with names and addresses and contacts, but I’m just shooting in the dark, too,” said Wilson.
In other business, the board approved a contract with Whaley’s Dust and Weed Control, Inc., of Mt. Pleasant for two applications of tree sap-based dust control to be applied to the roads on the department’s land.
The cost for dust control will be 50 centers per gallon this year. This is an increase of six cents from last year’s cost of 44 cents per gallon. In 2011, the department paid 43 cents per gallon.
Conservation Director John Pullis noted that because the parks’ roads are narrower than the typical gravel road, the department purchases dust control by the gallon instead of by the number of miles of road to be treated. One gallon will cover approximately one foot of road.
Pullis estimated that the two applications of dust control would cost the conservation department between $4,500 and $6,000.