Biologists, volunteers begin Anchorage goose count

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) Anchorage biologists and volunteers have begun an annual count of homegrown Canada geese.

Biologists from the Anchorage Waterfowl Working Group will visit lakes and ponds to examine birds.

The count takes place during the July molting season when the birds cannot fly because they're growing new wing feathers. Young birds will receive leg bands with a unique registration number. Adults already banded will be counted and looked over.

Biologist say goose numbers may have dropped to the lowest level in years.

By the mid-1990s, a goose boom was bringing an estimated 5,000 birds into town each summer, overwhelming city parks and endangering aircraft. The worst accident killed 24 people in September 1995, when an AWACS surveillance aircraft crashed on takeoff after flying through a flock at Elmendorf Air Force Base.

A program to reduce goose numbers to about 2,000 was launched with hazing and shooting geese near airfields, collecting eggs in the spring and transplanting goslings to Susitna Flats. By last summer, geese in Anchorage had plummeted to about 1,500 birds.

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