Swan Lake

drakenuts

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They fed the heck out of them around the edge of the lake with corn from the refuge.....for this banding project. Historical photos prove that. Again, I'm curious when the 5-year plan ended with less amount of agriculture inside the refuge and less of an aggressive feeding and banding project. It isn't the only reason the decline happened at Swan Lake but it may have been a contributing factor. The guys that ran the place back then were pretty serious hunters themselves.....
 

WuChang

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They fed the heck out of them around the edge of the lake with corn from the refuge.....for this banding project. Historical photos prove that. Again, I'm curious when the 5-year plan ended with less amount of agriculture inside the refuge and less of an aggressive feeding and banding project. It isn't the only reason the decline happened at Swan Lake but it may have been a contributing factor. The guys that ran the place back then were pretty serious hunters themselves.....

earliest I found in a quick search was 2007 which shows a reduction in AG fields

This document shows 2010 current AG and proposed 15 year plan
https://www.fws.gov/Midwest///planning/SwanLake/documents/CCP_Summary_EA/Chapter4.pdf
 

WuChang

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riverrat09

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Below is a link to a Swan Lake report from 1986. I found it interesting. I also attached a couple screenshots from the report. It's hard to imagine a time when Canada goose fall migration peeked in mid-October. Now days they hardly show up until January.
Screenshot_20220208-134856_Drive.jpg Screenshot_20220208-135226_Drive.jpg
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct...=41319&usg=AFQjCNGaSkQnFqo_DN__gWJqxTwKQANmDw
 

drakenuts

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The data backs up my theory a bit. The data shows production of corn on the refuge was at an all-time high into about the late 70's. Production of corn was significantly reduced, (and probably the banding and feeding of corn) around or just before 1980. Hunting pressure remained at an all-time high near and a little after 1980 as production of corn and goose numbers rapidly dropped off.
 

drakenuts

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It's interesting they even kept that bushel of grain category on the same document. It is almost like they knew it was a factor in waterfowl habitat.
 

riverrat09

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The data backs up my theory a bit. The data shows production of corn on the refuge was at an all-time high into about the late 70's. Production of corn was significantly reduced, (and probably the banding and feeding of corn) around or just before 1980. Hunting pressure remained at an all-time high near and a little after 1980 as production of corn and goose numbers rapidly dropped off.

I don't know I think you are jumping a bunch to come to that conclusion. Hard to know what the reasons for the decline were, but to counter your theory I would just point out that based on the numbers in that table. The goose population was increasing and surpassed 100k for the first time in 1962. From 1962 to 67 the population was staying over 100k each year with average grain available 45k (high of 86 - low of 26). Years following that grain numbers increase for a few years coinciding with the highest goose numbers and then grain numbers drop back from 1980 to 1986 (~31k bu average during this time) with a few of those years running typical of that earlier period. So yeah there was some decrease from that first period when they started holding 100k birds but not too extreme.

Definitely worth pointing out that geese numbers peaked in 1977 and it was a steady decline following that. Despite the fact that they were producing very high grain numbers during the first few years of major decline. Also if in fact grain production was the main factor I find it hard to believe that you could have the poorest year of grain production in 1981(8.9k grain) while holding 128k geese then follow that horrible grain production year up with the next two years 1982 and 1983 still having 133k and 131k geese respectively.

I don't know what caused the change but my personal opinion is that it is very unlikely that it was the refuges grain production. I'd contribute it to more likely being changing landscape use outside of Swan Lake and outside of Missouri as well as some minor changes in the climate across our region.
 

WuChang

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Eastern Prairie Population of geese used Swan NWR

There are several theories ranging from population/migration shift to the impact of lesser snow geese altering the nesting habitat that was once shared by both species. Subdivisions,golf courses and weather may have just as much influence.

These geese used to over winter in Arkansas and Louisiana as well as Missouri and Illinois.

Far as I know, no Federal refuges are dumping corn or whatever to our North so makes me wonder if the corn was the reason they came or stop coming

Regardless of the refuge changing over to moist soil,I imagine the surrounding areas still were on a corn,beans and possibly winter wheat cycle

I guess your guess is as good as any


BTW
this link leads to a document with EPP population estimates
https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.2193/0084-0173(2004)156[1:SMAHOE]2.0.CO;2
 

drakenuts

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Valid and good points riverrat. The only counterpoint to the theory and your point about the corn production declined yet geese still came for 2-3 year stretch after corn production was halted greatly, or a 2-3 year lag in goose numbers after corn production was cut down immensely on the refuge would be imprinting. I do believe ducks and geese will stop at areas they have stopped at where they find available food and low hunting pressure year after year. It may have taken a couple of years of poor or much lower corn production and feeding before the decline started because of imprinting. It may be a stretch, I’m sure other factors were also involved, but the data suggests it may not have been a coincidence. It’s interesting that the ag production was put on the graph. It’s also interesting that in some years the place was a refuge after only 14 days of hunting because the quota was met. We are spoiled with a 60 day duck season now, couldn’t imagine a 14 day season. Geese were being imprinted that the swan lake zone was a safe place for thousands of their buddies for all but 14 days of the year some years pr safe for 351 of them! That had to help with imprinting also and geese coming back year after year. That would have been frustrating to have permission on a field that was loading up with geese there often and only be able to hunt it two weekends the entire year!
 

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