Geese banded near Farson
by Wyoming Game & Fish
July 10, 2006
(Farson) Volunteers and biologists with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department literally went on a wild goose chase in order to band 500 Canada geese on Big Sandy and Eden reservoirs June 19-21.
Game and Fish Waterfowl Biologist Larry Roberts led the banding efforts and says the banding surveys are being done for a variety of management reasons, including monitoring avian influenza (AI).
"We will be very busy getting AI samples from birds across the state," Roberts says. "We want to band 500 Canada geese, but we only wanted to sample 50 of them for AI."
Avian influenza is a general term used to describe a common viral infection, present in low levels at all times in wild populations of waterfowl and many other species of birds. The emergence and spread of a highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 subtype in Asia over the past few years has elevated concerns about potential expansion of this virus to North America.
In addition to AI sampling, Roberts says he and his crew are gathering additional valuable migratory waterfowl information.
"Canada geese are migratory birds and Wyoming has two flyways: the Central and Pacific," he said. "There is a great deal we want to learn from these large geese populations and that is why we band them. For instance, we do know that these geese come here just to molt, which means to shed and re-grow their feathers. However, we do not know where these geese are migrating from. We know we have resident Canada geese in Wyoming. We also want to determine where the birds go after molting, get a better idea of gosling survival and the age structure of the different flocks."
Dr. Cynthia Tate, assistant wildlife veterinarian with the Game and Fish, says people can find useful and accurate information about avian diseases if they do a little homework.
"We are not downplaying AI, however, we do not want people to overreact to the potential health threats associated with AI," said Tate.
She recommends visiting the web site www.usgs.gov for more information or call her office at (307) 742-6681, extension 171. Anyone with concerns about dead birds and West Nile virus testing they should call the Wyoming West Nile Virus Hotline at (877) WYO-BITE.