Factors Affecting The Abundance Of Geese
Geese are affected by many of the same environmental factors that influence populations of ducks. Some of these influences are natural. These include the effects of severe weather on the northern breeding grounds of geese, which in extreme cases can wipe out a year's breeding success. Sometimes, natural predators such as foxes and bears can disrupt breeding in a particular area. When they aggregate in large populations during staging or wintering, geese are also vulnerable to epidemics of diseases such as avian cholera. Natural degradations of staging or wintering habitats may also be important, as may be the case of eelgrass declines in estuaries used by the brant. As was noted previously for the snow goose, large populations of geese can sometimes degrade their own habitat through overgrazing.
Humans have also greatly affected goose populations. The most important of the negative influences of humans on geese have been overhunting, destruction of staging and wintering habitats, and the toxic effects of ingested lead shot. However, as with ducks, many of these negative influences are now being managed in North America, by controlling the size of annual hunts, by instituting a network of key habitat reserves, and by banning the use of lead shot. These actions have mostly been carried out by agencies of government, as well as by nongovernmental organizations, including hunter-focused groups such as Ducks Unlimited, and groups with a conservation mandate, such as the Nature Conservancies.
Humans have increasingly been undertaking activities on behalf of geese and other wildlife. However, these animals are still threatened by many human activities. The eventual balance of the positive and negative interactions of humans and wildlife remains to be determined. Hopefully, the conservation of the populations of all of the world's species of goose will become an important priority to humans, so that these creatures will always be available to be sustainably harvested, while still maintaining their populations.