If you research the human factor in wildlife management, you will find yourself involved in man's feeble attempt to regulate a highly controversial commodity - wildlife.
Factor in any aspect of your favorite game bird, hoofed animal and, in particular, migratory waterfowl, then you will discover that we are constantly learning that wildlife is perhaps smarter then we are when it comes to survival.
A good example would be waterfowl in North America. If you are an avid goose hunter you are most likely to match wits with our common Canada (Branta canadensis) and the snow goose (Chen hyperborea). Both species are popular with waterfowlers because both make their presence in large numbers locally and are exciting and challenging to decoy.
PHOTO COURTESY OF DON DAUGHENBAUGH
Canada geese rest on the open water of a partially iced Loyalsock Creek.
The majority of the Canada geese are those that literally have found a home along the north and west drainage systems of Pennsylvania and have learned that the hundreds of harvested and freshly cultivated green fall crops such as winter wheat are to their liking.
They remain locally as long as there are small pockets of water and food available. When you see the small flocks on streams such as the Loyalsock and Big Pine creeks, you can be assured they have been around for some time.
It has taken more than 50 years to establish viable numbers of Canada geese that make it worthwhile for longer hunting seasons and an increase in harvest rates, much to the delight of waterfowlers and the distaste of golfers trying to make a par 4 in piles of goose poop.
The development of large islands as resting areas downriver and adjacent to the small villages of Liverpool and Millersburg on the lower Susquehanna has proven again that all wildlife needs is some food and a place to rest and hide to survive.
The beautiful V-shaped flocks from the far north, not conditioned to the corn and harvested wheat fields of Pennsylvania, will continue to make their flights to other great resting areas such as the famous Black Water refuge in Maryland, while the local native birds just hang out.
While solving the problem of having just a few geese to gun over in the 1950s and '60s, statistics indicate that reproduction rates have dramatically increased. If there is a problem, it begins when a flock of several hundred local gregarious Canadas and visiting snow geese set foot on your 59 acres of freshly planted wheat and eat as many fresh sprouts as they can stuff in their bellies. We cannot fault the hungry birds for that.
During the last century, it has been a biological success story for our migratory waterfowl, but with success comes the problem of numbers that, if not curtailed, could spell disaster by simple overproduction.
The waterfowl hunter has an important role in the management of wildlife, not only locally and in the eastern United States, but in the entire continent.