"Facing Consequences of Success in Bid to Save a Goose"

"WILLOWS, Calif. — These are good days to be a snow goose on the Pacific flyway. The water in the rice fields is at an ideal depth for snacking on marsh plants. A bit of grain is left over from the harvest around the Northern California city of Chico, which is gearing up for its annual Snow Goose Festival.

Just past sunset, thousands of the geese rise as one from the marshes here, a primal force riding a soft thunder of black-tipped wings.

There is just one problem with this picture, which results from nearly a century of efforts to sustain the plump white birds along their migratory paths. From the Arctic tundra to the marshes of Chesapeake Bay, snow geese have become far too much of a good thing over the past two decades, crowding out smaller species and destroying their own summer nesting grounds with their nibbling.

In places where the birds sojourn in the winter, Missouri and Mississippi River farmers consider them pests that not only eat grains but also peck and claw at plant roots. In Chincoteague Bay in Maryland, they turned stretches of marsh into open water."

Felicity Barringer reports for the New York Times December 30, 2011.


Source: NY Times, 01/02/2012