Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Missouri
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Missouri Project

Activities and behavior of participants and geese during the Light Goose Conservation Action in the Rainwater Basin of Nebraska.

August 2011 - September 2013


Participating Agencies


The number of lesser snow geese (Chen caerulescens) and Ross’s geese (C. rossi) hereafter “light geese,” using wetlands in the Rainwater Basin (RWB) region of south-central Nebraska during spring migration has increased since the 1980s and in some years may exceed 7 million birds (Vrtiska and Sullivan 2009). An estimated 85% of the mid-continent population of light geese stage in RWB wetlands during their annual spring migration (Gersib et al. 1989), and have been hypothesized to have negative effects on other waterfowl species on the breeding grounds (Batt 1997). Reduction of the mid-continent population of lesser snow geese has been a priority within and outside the Central Flyway since the mid-1990s. One means to help reduce this population was the implementation of a Light Goose Conservation Order (LGCO) in 1999 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the Central and Mississippi Flyways to increase harvest. The LGCO was implemented in Nebraska in 1999, but there has been concern and special regulations regarding the LGCO in the RWB region due to the millions of other waterfowl that also use this area during spring migration.

Research Publications Publication Date
Dinges, A.J., E.B. Webb, M.P. Vrtiska, C.H. Nilon, and S.A. Wilhelm Stanis. 2014. Migratory bird hunter opinions regarding future management strategies for controlling light goose populations. Wildlife Society Bulletin 38:728-733. December 2014
Dinges, A.J., E.B. Webb and M.P. Vrtiska. Effects of the Light Goose Conservation Order on waterfowl behavior and energy expenditure during spring migration. Wildlife Society Bulletin 40:694-704 December 2016
Dinges, A.J., E.B. Webb and M.P. Vrtiska. 2015. Effects of the Light Goose Conservation Order on non-target waterfowl distribution during spring migration. Wildlife Biology 21:88-97. January 2015
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Dinges, A.J. 2013. Participation in the Light Goose Conservation Order and Effects of Behavior and Distribution of Waterfowl in the Rainwater Basin of Nebraska. Thesis, University of Missouri - Columbia May 2013