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Banding Together for Waterfowl

2012 Spring Habitat Conditions in Canada 

Posted May 9, 2012
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British Columbia

The coast experienced wet conditions through much of March and April. This moisture, combined with cooler temperatures, has resulted in a higher-than-normal snowpack for the south coast and Vancouver Island regions. This may cause flooding in local rivers depending on May temperatures. The wet weather has delayed Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island farmers from getting into the fields. Many ducks and geese have moved through the area to breeding grounds further north, after fueling up in fields and foreshore areas. Resident waterfowl have begun nesting, but were likely delayed by the cooler conditions. 

In the northern Interior, cool and wet spring weather has led to a large snowpack at high elevations. Snow conditions at lower elevations were average at best. A high runoff is expected for river-fed wetlands, while more-isolated wetlands should experience normal spring conditions. 

Despite recent spring showers, conditions are relatively dry in the southern Interior due to below-average winter snowfall at low and moderate elevations. Many high-value wetlands still have relatively low water levels (as they did last year). It is particularly dry in the West Chilcotin area, where the only basins recharging are those with associated stream flows. Most waterfowl returned at approximately normal times, and breeding effort appears to be proceeding as usual. Canada geese goslings have been observed since late April. 

Snow conditions were above average this winter in the southeast Interior, which received some good late-winter snowfalls. Wetland conditions should be better than average. 

In the Peace region, runoff was below average due to a lack of winter snow at low and moderate elevations. In the agricultural zone (and much of the boreal plains and taiga plains), winter precipitation was below normal. So far, spring precipitation been 115–200 per cent of normal, and much of this moisture soaked into the ground. There may be more runoff if the rain persists, but spring wetland conditions are mostly below average. Upland conditions should be good after the current rains. Early nesters, such as Canada geese and mallards, have likely initiated nests. Trumpeter swans arrived in mid April, and tundra swans are in the process of migrating through. Good numbers of common mergansers, Canada geese and common goldeneye were on the Peace River in early April.  

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