While it would be easy to view light goose management efforts as not entirely successful, the application of years of research in the Arctic and subarctic was instrumental in identifying both the light goose overpopulation problem and a range of potential solutions. Supporting and implementing spring conservation harvests was no easy task for elected officials and waterfowl managers. And waterfowl hunters have done their part by increasing light goose harvests, employing new and innovative approaches to ensure the effectiveness of this important management action.
Looking ahead, waterfowl managers need a better understanding of the availability of suitable light goose staging and breeding habitat, as well as the extent of habitat loss and degradation in the Arctic and the magnitude of impacts on other wildlife species that share the same landscapes. Assessing public sentiment will also be essential before more aggressive control measures can be seriously considered. In 1997, the best available science strongly supported the need for management control of light goose populations. The science must be equally strong before a decision can be made to pursue a new phase of intervention.
Dale Humburg is chief scientist at DU national headquarters in Memphis.