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Fairbanks prepares for geese migration

Posted: April 8, 2012 - 7:49pm

The carpet has been rolled, or should we say plowed, out at Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. All that’s missing are the geese.

The front field at Creamer’s Field was plowed Tuesday in anticipation of the arrival of the first Canada geese of the season in Fairbanks.

Department of Transportation workers from Fairbanks International Airport plow the fields each spring as part of a cooperative management agreement between the airport, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The goal of the agreement is to keep geese, ducks and other migratory birds away from Fairbanks International Airport and the airfield on Fort Wainwright, where they pose a hazard to incoming and outgoing aircraft, according to refuge biologist Laurie Boeck with the Department of Fish and Game.

Plowing the field speeds up the melting process and provides the birds with the open ground and water they are seeking at  this time of year, Boeck said.

Years ago, before the state acquired the old dairy farm and converted it to a refuge, the Creamer family spread manure on the fields, hastening the melting of the snow and attracting flocks of geese, cranes and ducks, Boeck said.

These days, heavy equipment does the job. On Tuesday, DOT workers used a giant front-end snow blower to clear a path through the field before bringing in a grader to finish the job.

“This year the snow was so deep they had to snow blow to make room for the plow,” Boeck said.

As to when the geese will arrive, Boeck said it should be any day now.The first Canada geese of the season were reported in Delta Junction early last week, and they usually arrive in Fairbanks about a week after a Delta sighting, she said.

“The five-year average date of their first arrival in Fairbanks is April 9, and since 1976 the average arrival is April 13,” Boeck said. “They should be here any time now.”

Volunteers from Borealis Kiwanis and the Lathrop Key Club will spread about three tons of Delta barley on the plowed portion of the field on Saturday to give the birds something to eat when they do get here.

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