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Responses of Staging Greater Snow Geese to Human Disturbance

Luc Bélanger and Jean Bédard
The Journal of Wildlife Management
Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jul., 1989), pp. 713-719
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the Wildlife Society
DOI: 10.2307/3809202
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3809202
Page Count: 7
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Responses of Staging Greater Snow Geese to Human Disturbance
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Abstract

We studied the effects of human disturbance on staging in greater snow geese (Chen caerulescens atlantica) spring and fall in the Montmagny bird sanctuary, Québec, 1985-87. We recorded 652 disturbances (any event causing all or a part of the goose flock to take flight) in 471 hours of observation. Rate of disturbance was higher in fall (1.46/hr) than in spring (1.02/hr) (P ≤ 0.001). The entire flock was disturbed in 20% of all cases. Mean time in flight was 56 and 76 seconds in fall and spring, respectively (P = 0.049). Transport-related activities particularly low-flying aircraft, caused ≥45% of all disturbances in spring and fall. In 40% of all cases (P ≥ 0.05) geese stopped their feeding activities following a disturbance. Mean time to resume feeding was then 726 seconds in fall compared to 122 seconds in spring (P ≤ 0.001). The level of disturbance that prevailed on a given day in fall (x̄ hourly rate) influenced goose use of the sanctuary on the following day (P ≤ 0.01). When disturbance exceeded 2.0/hour, it produced a 50% drop in the mean number of geese present in the sanctuary the next day. Low-level aircraft flights over goose sanctuaries should be strictly regulated.

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