Waterfowl Management in Georgia

Important Goose Species in Georgia

There are two species of geese found in Georgia.  The most common is the resident Canada goose, and the other species is the migratory snow goose.  Snow geese are relative newcomers to Georgia.  As their population has greatly increased over the past several years, their wintering area has expanded to include Georgia.

Canada Goose

The Canada goose has become a common resident of Georgia.  Practically all of the Canada geese seen in Georgia are resident birds, they are not migratory.  These birds spend all year in our state, even though they may use different habitats during the summer and the winter.

  • Breeding Area - Resident Canada geese breed across the state of Georgia.
  • Breeding Habitat - Ranges from isolated ponds and wetlands to major reservoirs.
  • Average Clutch Size - 5 eggs
  • Incubation - 26 days
  • Average Nest Success - 70%
  • Adult Survival -  80%
  • Wintering Areas - Various habitats across the state
  • Food Habits - Clovers, grasses, and cultivated grains.

Historically, migratory Canada geese passed through Georgia on their way to an important wintering area, St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge in Florida. Over time, the migratory population of Canada geese began to decline, and fewer and fewer geese passed through Georgia. Today, there are virtually no migratory Canada geese present in Georgia during the winter.

In 1975, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources began a program to re-establish  Canada geese in Georgia. During the restocking period of the late 1970's and early 1980's,  thousands of wild Canada geese were released on reservoirs and farm ponds across the state. Canada geese quickly adapted to the available habitats in Georgia, and our resident goose population began to grow and expand into new areas.

Currently, Georgia's Canada goose population is estimated at approximately 45,000 birds. Some of our resident geese have adapted so well to life in urban and suburban areas that they cause problems in certain situations. Geese often use habitats such as golf courses, beaches, lawns, housing developments around major impoundments, and man-made ponds in subdivisions and apartment complexes. Goose-human interactions occur often in these settings. In situations where geese are causing problems, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Resources Division, has trained personnel who can provide technical guidance and assistance to solve these problems.

Snow Goose

There are two different species of snow geese, the lesser snow goose and the greater snow goose.  The lesser snow goose is the species found in our state, and it is a relative newcomer to Georgia.  The population of mid-continent lesser snow geese has increased greatly during the last several years, and more and more lesser snow geese are now wintering in Georgia.  Lesser snow geese come in two distinct color phases, a white phase (called the snow goose), and a dark phase (called the blue goose).  Though they may look different, they are both the same species, lesser snow goose.

  • Breeding Area - Hudson Bay in Canada.
  • Breeding Habitat - Grassy tundra areas near large bodies of water.
  • Average Clutch Size - 5 eggs
  • Incubation - 23 days
  • Average Nest Success - 85-90%
  • Adult Survival - 70-75%
  • Wintering Areas - Primarily agricultural areas of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas
  • Food Habits - Roots of bulrushes, cordgrass, cattails, and agricultural crops