Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist 49:37–40; 2017


Published by the Great Plains Natural Science Society. Used by permission.


Giant Canada geese (Branta canadensis maxima) were extirpated from Iowa by the early 1900s due to unregulated hunting, egg gathering, and wetland drainage in the nineteenth century (Bishop 1978). Ef- forts to reintroduce Canada geese in Iowa began in 1964 (Bishop and Howing 1972) and involved releasing flightless adults and goslings at nearly 30 sites across the state (Zenner and LaGrange 1998a). In 1972, 13 flightless pairs were released at Rice Lake Wildlife Management Area (WMA; Bishop 1978). By 1989, the breeding population of Canada geese at Rice Lake WMA had increased to 420 nesting adults (G. G. Zenner, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, unpublished data). Canada goose nest success and nest densities were documented from 1989–1991 on extant islands at Rice Lake WMA (Zenner and LaGrange 1998b).

Rice Lake WMA (43.379497, –93.472715) is located in north-central Iowa and lies within the southernmost portion of the Prairie Pothole Region. This wetland complex consists of Rice Lake, a 409-ha shallow, natural lake with a maximum depth of 3 m and 20 natural islands ranging in size from 0.04 to 3.9 ha, and Joice Slough, a 73-ha marsh with a maximum depth of 1 m and 15 natural islands ranging in size from 0.02 to 3.19 ha (Zenner and LaGrange 1998b). During 1989–1991, potential Canada goose nest sites included islands, elevated structures, and muskrat houses. Over the course of that study, drought conditions left Joice Slough completely dry and dramatically lowered water levels at Rice Lake, exposing islands to increased predator activity. Despite the drought, nest densities were high (68–158 nests/ha) and nest success ranged from 40–58% (Zenner and LaGrange 1998b).