The AGJV supports banding operations of geese across the Arctic, from Baffin Island to Alaska. Most of these banding operations take place in late summer when geese are molting their wing feathers and cannot fly, and when young of the year have not yet fledged. (see ‘Capturing Flightless Geese by Herding’, below) From 1989–2019, more than 1 million geese from AGJV populations and species of interest were banded. AGJV banding studies, and public reporting of these bands when they are found, have provided information about timing of migration, recovery distributions, survival rates, population sizes, and harvest rates.
Scientists rely on the interest and engagement of tens of thousands of United States and Canadian citizen scientists to collect goose-related information. For example, a large volume of information is provided annually by the public through harvest questionnaire surveys, species composition surveys and band recoveries. Hunters “sample” the population of marked birds and report band recoveries and seasonal harvests of geese. Parts from harvested birds (i.e., tail fans and wing tips of harvested geese) are used for determining the species, age, and sex composition of the annual harvest.
From all this information, there is now improved knowledge of goose distribution during migration and winter, which has led to the combined management of several populations of geese from breeding areas that were formerly divided into smaller regional components, including midcontinent White-fronted Geese, midcontinent Cackling Geese, and midcontinent Lesser Snow Geese. Band recovery data from hunters have also been used to monitor changes in distribution of species like Ross’s Geese, which have greatly expanded their range eastward over the past few decades.