Great Plains Natural Science Society


The Prairie Naturalist

Date of this Version


Document Type



The Prairie Naturalist· 41(3/4): December 2009, pp 126-128


To reduce crop damage by resident giant Canada geese (Schaible et al. 2005), the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks (SDGFP) initiated a program to reduce goose nesting success in eastern South Dakota. One management tool used by SDGFP personnel was the destruction of giant Canada goose nests. When a giant Canada goose has its nest destroyed, they are known to initiate a molt migration (Mykut 2002, Luukkonen et aI. 2008). We attached Platform Transmitting Terminals (PTT; model ST -19) to document and describe molt migrations of giant Canada geese following nest destruction. We captured 3 adult nesting female giant Canada geese during early incubation with a net-gun (Mechlin and Shaiffer 1980) on 18 April 2003 in Brookings County, South Dakota, USA. These geese were subsequently fitted with a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service leg band, a PTT, and then released. Personnel from SDGFP destroyed nests after these geese were captured.

Molt migration is a behavior now common to most temperate-nesting populations of reintroduced giant Canada geese (Abraham et al. 1999). We documented the first long distance molt migration (2080 km) from South Dakota, which also was one of the longest published molt migrations recorded, and is similar to distances traveled by molting geese from Michigan (Luukkonen et al. 2008). It is apparent from this study and earlier data that resident giant Canada geese from eastern South Dakota are making molt migrations to areas far north of South Dakota (Anderson 2006).