During the last 30 years, the Central Valley (CV) landscape and the waterfowl that winter in the CV have changed greatly. Shifting agricultural practices and new habitat conservation programs such as the Central Valley Joint Venture have increased area of wetlands and flooded agriculture, improving conditions for wintering ducks throughout the Central Valley. However, compared with ducks, Greater white-fronted geese and other geese in the Central Valley generally forage more in un-flooded rice fields (Ackerman et al. 2006, Fleskes et al. 2005). Compared to the late 1970s, acreage of un-flooded rice in the northern Central Valley, where most geese winter, has decreased about 15% whereas abundance of white-fronted geese has increased about 400%. Post-harvest disking and plowing of fields have increased recently, which may make rice less available for foraging geese. During the same time, goose depredation of spring forage crops in the Klamath Basin has increased, possibly a result of an earlier exodus of geese out of the Central Valley because of depleted food resources in late winter. Work is necessary to determine if Central Valley food resources have become inadequate to support current goose populations. This information is needed to guide Central Valley habitat management programs for geese and to reduce the risk of wintering white-fronted geese to move their winter locations from California to another state, as have cackling geese and other small Canada geese.
Read more about Dan's project investigating Greater White-fronted Geese in the Central Valley.