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Movements and Habitat Use by Temperate-Nesting Canada Geese During the Postbreeding Period in Southern Québec

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Author(s): Matthieu Beaumont | Jean Rodrigue | Jean-François Giroux

Journal: Avian Conservation and Ecology
ISSN 1712-6568

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 3;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Branta canadensis maxima | Canada Goose | habitat use | hunting disturbance | movement | Qu&#233 | bec | suburb ecology

ABSTRACT
Individual behavior that reduces vulnerability to predation can affect population dynamics of animals. Temperate-nesting Canada Geese (Branta canadensis maxima) have increased steadily throughout the Atlantic flyway and have become a nuisance in some parts of their range. The objective of our study was to describe movements and habitat use during the postbreeding period of Canada Geese recently established in southern Québec. More specifically, we wanted to determine whether geese were using areas where hunting was allowed to assess the potential of harvest to control the number of geese. We tracked a sample of geese fitted with radio or conventional alphanumeric collars throughout the fall in three zones characterized by different habitats and hunting pressure. Before the hunting season, geese left the breeding area where hunting was allowed to reach suburban areas where firearm discharge was prohibited or hunters’ numbers were low. These postbreeding movements occurred when juveniles were approximately three months old. We observed few local movements among zones once migrant geese from northern breeding populations reached the study area. Radio-collared geese used mainly natural habitats (75.4 ± 2.6%), followed by urban (14.4 ± 2.7%), and agricultural habitats (10.3 ± 0.8%). They were located 73.8 ± 6.2% of the time in areas where hunting was prohibited. Geese that attended their juveniles during brood rearing were more prone to use areas where firearm discharge was restricted than geese that had abandoned or lost their brood. This study shows that under the prevailing regulations, the potential of hunting to manage the increasing breeding population of Canada Geese in southern Québec is limited.
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