Bums Up


Despite almost record numbers of ducks in the prairies, there are few in my neck of the woods in northwestern Ontario. Drew Myers, however, reports good numbers of ducks in the Dryden area, which is more agricultural than Kenora and in general, has deeper, more productive soils. Kenora has good duck numbers in some years, usually when there is a bountiful wild rice crop on Lake of the Woods and the Winnipeg and English River systems. High water levels ruined that prospect, though. I suspect the marshlands in the Dryden area are of a somewhat different, vegetative mix than around Kenora.

There are a lot of geese around, however. Mostly local Canada geese, although I have seen some northern ‘cacklers’ as well as a few flocks of snows and blues passing through. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do much hunting for them, but that’s another story.

Years ago, the only Canada geese one ever saw in much of northern Ontario were high-flying migrants. Like elsewhere in the continent, though, goose populations have surged, and I don’t think I’m wrong in suggesting there is far more biomass of goose in the area now than duck. Numbers aren’t growing as rapidly as they were a decade ago, but do still seem to be on the increase. One has to wonder how long this growth in the goose population will last.

There are many reasons for the explosion in goose numbers. With respect to Canada’s, I think their adaptation to living in and among humans has been a major contributor to their growth. By seeking out habitats near homes and cottages (where the geese in this photo were), as well as parks and urban lawnscapes, Canada geese can live, breed and migrate with little to fear from human hunters. In many areas, they’ve become a pest, and are disparagingly referred to by some as ‘flying or sky rats’.

Personally, I like the geese, and wish them well, even if I do hope to bag a few soon. They are very tasty.

  1. That’s a hard concept for many to understand, that we love and respect the birds that we hunt. People look at me like I have three heads when I say that I love Canada Geese because of how many I harvest, but I do. They’re incredible birds. It’s also an interesting conundrum, because I will not hunt with anyone who views them in a negative way, although almost all of my private property access has been granted by landowners who do view them that way, so I suppose it’s a little bit of a give and take.

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