Friday, March 7, 2014

North American Snow Goose Populations

Populations of snow geese, blue geese and Ross’s geese in North America, collectively referred to as “light geese,” have grown to record levels over the past three decades, according to the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

USFWS biologists theorize that the overabundance of light geese is harming arctic tundra breeding habitat, which could have negative impacts on light geese and other bird species that depend on these areas.

Since 2009 hunters have had the opportunity to pursue snow geese during the spring as a result of a special management action referred to as a “Conservation Order” allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The measure was adopted at the recommendation of federal and state wildlife scientists in response to concerns about a growing number of snow geese across North America.

Eight states in the Atlantic Flyway (Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Vermont) will hold a Spring Snow Goose Conservation Order in 2014.

source: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Friday, February 14, 2014

Best Areas to View Snow Geese in New Jersey

The following is a summary of the best areas in New Jersey to view snow geese:

Northern Jersey

In Northern Jersey, snow geese often winter at Merrill Creek Reservoir. These flocks typically exceed 15,000 birds in January and can build to over 75,000 birds in late winter. Merrill Creek Reservoir flocks may cover a wide area during daily feeding forays. Feeding snow geese are usually found from Belvidere to Washington to Clinton to Flemington.

Central New Jersey

Snow goose flocks typically total 5-10 thousand birds in central New Jersey. Flocks in this region are seen feeding in fields in an area from Cranbury to Roosevelt to Wrightstown to Burlington.

Delaware Bay

Delaware Bay tidal marshes and nearby inland farm fields attract the highest numbers of snow geese in New Jersey. During the Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey in early January, researchers may estimate 100,000 light geese in these areas.

Delaware Bay flocks feed, roost and loaf in the tidal marshes yet often make inland field feeding flights primarily into Salem and Cumberland Counties. At times, flocks range as far inland as Mullica Hill, Turnersville and Franklinville.

Southern New Jersey
Snow geese can be found in and around Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge in Oceanville. Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey counts from early January are typically about 5,000 birds in this region.

source: NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Connecticut Urban Waterfowl

Researchers found high numbers of mallards and other puddle ducks in urban sanctuaries during Connecticut’s annual Midwinter Waterfowl Survey. The presence of wild waterfowl in urban areas is often associated with supplemental feeding activities, according to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP).

“The Department discourages citizens from feeding waterfowl for a number of reasons, including increased risk of disease transmission, potential for poor nutrition, and a clouding of the real issue facing waterfowl and wildlife in general in Connecticut – loss of suitable habitat,” said Rick Jacobson, Director for the DEEP Wildlife Division.

DEEP conducted the annual Midwinter Waterfowl Survey on January 8 and 9, 2014. The survey is conducted throughout the Atlantic Flyway, and is used as an index of long-term wintering waterfowl trends.

The Connecticut survey is conducted from a helicopter and a census is obtained from the coast, the three major river systems, and selected inland lakes and reservoirs.

A brochure entitled, “Do Not Feed Waterfowl” outlines potential hazards of feeding waterfowl. The document is available on the DEEP website at:

source: Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Middle Columbia River Steelhead Restoration

Middle Columbia River steelhead is listed as a species threatened with extinction under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

In 2013, NOAA Fisheries designated a population of Middle Columbia River steelhead as “experimental.” The designation will support the reintroduction of steelhead to historical spawning and rearing habitat in the upper Deschutes, helping to re-establish the population.

As part of ongoing efforts to restore steelhead trout in the watershed, Stearns Dam on the Crooked River has been removed. The dam removal will allow steelheads to access 12 additional miles of quality habitat that was previously inaccessible.

The dam’s removal is the result of collaboration among the Crooked River Watershed Council, NOAA’s Restoration Center, American Rivers, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, and the local landowner.

source: NOAA Fisheries

Friday, January 3, 2014

Michigan Lake Sturgeon Restoration

More than 5,000 lake sturgeon were stocked by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) during the agency's fall
2013 fish stocking season.

In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Southern Lake Michigan Management Unit stocked 50 fingerling lake sturgeon into the Kalamazoo River.

The Marquette Fisheries Research Station stocked a total of 598 fingerling lake sturgeon into four sites in the Upper Peninsula.

The DNR's cooperative hatchery with Michigan State University stocked 4,490 fingerling lake sturgeon into Black, Burt and Mullet lakes.

For more information, visit

source: Michigan Department of Natural Resources

USGS Stream Denitrification Study

Recent U.S. Geological Survey research has found that natural biochemical processes in water moving back and forth between a stream and its underlying sediment were significant in removing nitrate from streams in the Illinois River basin, one of the world’s most intensively farmed regions.

The USGS study in a nitrogen-polluted stream found that the flow of streamwater through a very thin zone of sediment enhances chemical reactions that decrease nitrate delivery to coastal areas where nitrogen fuels formation of hypoxic "dead zones." 

Beneath all streams and rivers is a shallow layer of sediment that is permeated by water exchange across the sediment surface. This boundary between the world of earth and water in streams is referred to by scientists as the "hyporheic" zone, from Greek words meaning "under the flow." The hyporheic zone can be thought of as the stream's "skin," since it serves vital functions such as the removal of dissolved and particulate contaminants being transported by the stream.

Previous research has established under laboratory conditions that hyporheic flow should be critical to sparking reactions that improve stream water quality, but field studies have generally been unable to reveal the contribution of hyporheic flow to decreasing the flow of contaminants to sensitive downstream waters.

This field study determined that a very thin skin, a mere four centimeters (1.6 in.) of sediment, was effective in removing nitrate from streams of the Illinois River basin during late summer. The crucial investigative approach was labeling in-stream nitrate with an isotopic tracer that could be followed at very fine scales in the sediment and simultaneously tracked for kilometers downstream.

The study scientists found that hyporheic flow increased nitrate removal by renewing the supply of dissolved organic carbon and nitrate to specialized bacteria in the sediment that performed denitrification, a reaction that converts dissolved nitrate to gaseous nitrogen and so removes nitrate permanently from flowing water.

The top four centimeters of sediment had the greatest abundance of denitrifying bacteria, in addition to the highest levels of hyporheic flow. Sediment properties in this thin layer were also conducive to the formation of oxygen-free micro zones that are required for the reaction to take place.

The study was published in the October 2013 edition of Water Resources Research. The findings were presented December 11 at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

source: U.S. Geological Survey