The Conservation Season started in the spring of 1998. It was sold as a five-year plan to quickly reduce the population of snow geese in the mid-continental population. We were told that the birds were devastating their breeding grounds, and if something wasn't done there would be a catastrophic die off. There was no reason not to believe that, but there were nay sayers from the beginning.
First the biologists totally ignored the testimony from the Cree Indians of Canada. Their records showed that the population had been even higher in the 1600s. I am sure that most of you have seen the accounts of the Little Ice Age. The first wave of frigid temperatures occurred around 1650, the second wave around 1700 and the third around 1850. The Cree records showed that the snow goose population had seen a severe drop during this time period. When the Cree protested the conservation season on the grounds that the numbers had not reached what they were before the Little Ice Age, they were ignored. The Indians said the goose population was just trying to return to its normal numbers before the Little Ice Age froze the breeding grounds.
Twenty-two years later, research shows that the breeding grounds are not in danger. In fact, there are many unoccupied areas and there is room for the population to expand. There is habitat damage in the fall and spring staging grounds, but hardly a population defining area. The limiting factor for snow goose population remains the window that the ice leaves the breeding grounds. During this window is the brief time the geese lay their eggs and raise them to fledging stage.
Although the conservation season is neither hurting or helping the effort to control the population, it has increased the opportunity to harvest birds through the midwest into the spring. The initial thought of a five-year program has evolved into an economic boom for many areas. It has taken on a life of its own and will not vanish. I do find it personally disgusting to read of people going out at 3 a.m. and blasting a roost, then coming back at sunrise to search the dead for bands and leaving the carcasses for buzzards. Jump shooting done legally and retrieving birds for processing for food is OK, but that's not what I'm hearing or reading about on Facebook.
But know this -- the whole thought pattern of killing indiscriminately to SAVE THE TUNDRA was -- and still is -- total bullshit.