Canada geese can often be found in urban areas throughout the year or found in the skies migrating in search of warmer weather. This giant of the skies characterizes autumn just as much as the changing of the leaves. Although they are often considered a nuisance, they were not always as abundant as they are today.
Native to North America, the Canada goose historically raised young in the northern regions of the U.S. and Canada, traveling south in order to avoid frozen waters. Unregulated hunting and wetland drainage led to severe declines of Canada geese throughout their native range. Before 1900 these geese had disappeared from Iowa, and by the 1950s they were thought to be extinct; however, a small flock was found overwintering near Rochester, Minn., in 1962. Captive breeding began in 1964, releasing more than 6,000 birds by the end of 1981.
With improved hunting regulations and habitat conservation programs funded through grants and hunting license sales, Canada geese have made a historical comeback. They can often be found in agricultural urban areas, where food resources are abundant and predators are few and far between. Over the course of the last 60 years, the population has gone from a small flock to an estimated 1.7 million this year in the Mississippi flyway alone. In the eyes of a conservationist, the Canada goose is considered an astounding success, something that was almost lost from our landscape.