Wednesday, January 31, 2018

White Russians in Northwest Washington

Over the past few years the winter fields of the Skagit and Samish Flats have become progressively whiter. 

Our winter snow geese breed on Wrangel Island in the Russian Arctic and travel down the Pacific coast to winter on Flats as well as on the lowlands of the Fraser and Nooksack Rivers as well as the lower Stillaguamish.

The number of snow geese has been increasing appreciably (WaterfowlPopulationStatusReport17.pdf) and the results have been noticeable in the fields of the Skagit and Samish Flats with multiple large flocks visible on most drives I make across the flats. The above picture was just west of Bayview Road north of Highway 20.

The population has recovered and surpassed the planned population goals. Past over hunting and weather factors had reduced the population, but the number of birds is now causing habitat damage in both the Arctic and on the farm fields. Washington State has expanded goose hunts and has partnered with a number of farmers to allow hunting access on private land as well as the Fish and Wildlife lands (

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