Tuesday, October 23, 2012
White geese make early arrival in Imperial Valley
|The first flock of snow geese arrived last week at the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge and more white geese are expected to arrive at this southern refuge prior to opening day on Nov. 3. Not only did these geese arrive at the refuge ahead of schedule, but there were a handful of Canada geese that showed up about the same time.
"We have never seen white geese arrive the first week of October but thankfully the refuge is pretty much near ready to accommodate these early arrivals. By mid-October I would expect there to be at least a couple of thousand white geese on the refuge. The bulk of the geese will likely show up in early November, which should make for pretty good goose hunting," says Chris Schoneman, refuge manager.
Schoneman went on to tell Western Outdoor News, "Our crew got rye grass planted in plenty of time and the fields were flooded and the grass began to grow up pretty good both in the Farm Unit and here around the refuge headquarters. The heat spell we had in September ruined some of the rye grass that was already coming up nicely and we ended up having to disk one field close to the Union Tract and another field inside the refuge. I think we got on to it fast enough with new seed and ample water to save a lot of habitat that snow geese use during their winter layover."
IMPERIAL VALLEY SNOW GEESE — Goose hunters should have an average season hunting the fields and ponds of Imperial Valley this season. Opening day is Nov. 3, but the best hunting will take place from late November through the end of special late season for Imperial Valley. Bob Peets of Yorba Linda and his chocolate lab, bagged a limit of six geese while hunting near Westmorland during the late season. WON PHOTO BY JIM NIEMIEC
According to Schoneman the refuge called on a soil specialist this summer to evaluate the fields and recommend the best fertilizers to use to balance out the soil and produce a better crop of rye grass. Thankfully there was water available during the peak of the growing season and this year geese should enjoy a more healthy crop of rye grass to keep them from losing weight or strength before the spring migration kicks in about early March.
There was talk about the Union Tract changing its hunt schedule for this coming year but nothing will be changed. The refuge will shoot a total of 4 sites which can accommodate 16 hunters. On Wed. and Sat. there will be a designated handicapped blind, but on Sunday all blinds will be open for the general hunting public.
WON contacted Tony Finazzo, who is a member of the Westmorland Duck Club and also owner of Toni Finazzo's Taxidermy, to get his take on what prospects for the white goose hunting season will be on the southwesterly corner of the Salton Sea.
"Jim, right now there aren't any white geese using our ponds but we have planted crops to attract and hopefully hold geese throughout the season. Our members did some major dike work and we planted Japanese millet to go along with our native bull rush. We feel that this combination of ponded water, feed and a loafing area will produce good duck and goose hunting for our club. Normally we don't start seeing any white geese show up on our ponds until the second or third week of the season and I think that the migration should be right on schedule this year," says Finazzo.
During the peak years of white goose hunting a few years back there were as many as 50,000 snow and Ross' geese wintering in Imperial Valley. The count has been dropping for the last 4 years and the best estimate for the peak population for this season will be just over 25,000 birds.
WON went on to ask Schoneman to give his take on what correlation there is (or could be) between a full moon phase and the migration of geese down into Imperial Valley.
"I don't think that the moon phase is the only factor that needs to be put into the equation of when and how many white geese migrate. Based on biological data there are other factors that need to be looked at that could trigger a migration or hold it back. Weather and available feed are two key factors to consider. Obviously geese are not going to buck a strong headwind when making the move south and if there is plenty of feed, loafing ponds and the terrain isn't frozen over white geese would likely delay their migration south."