Friday, January 6, 2012

Oral History: Geese of Fort Collins

Have you checked the bottoms of your shoes lately? Yep, it’s goose season again. Aside from the proliferation of poo, I do like seeing the distinctive birds around. This excerpt from “Talking About Fort Collins: Selections from Oral Histories,” a joint project of The Friends of the Library and the Local History Department of the Fort Collins Public Library (1992) tells a little about how the geese came to winter here. (Transcripts of the oral histories are also available at Fort Collins History Connection.)

“At present, I’m the Regional Wildlife Biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife…Jack Grieb and Gurney Crawford are considered the fathers of the Canada goose population within Fort Collins, well, actually in northern Colorado. Their efforts began in the late 1950s, early ‘60s. Jack Grieb was a waterfowl researcher with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and Gurney Crawford was a wildlife technician. The two men were working together with the idea of establishing a resident goose flock in the Fort Collins area. At that time there was not a resident population in Fort Collins, or nearby.

“As a result of habitat changes in Larimer and adjacent counties—primarily opening of gravel pits, irrigation, sprinkling systems, warm water development—these men had the idea of starting to hand raise geese. They knew that where goslings fledged or took flight they would return when they became adults. So they proceeded and were successful in obtaining some goose eggs from various sources. They hatched them under Banty hens. Lo and behold the geese did come back. Not only did they come back, they induced the migrants that used to fly over Larimer County to start wintering in this vicinity. So the goose population went from relatively zero in the late fifties to, I think, our high count this last winter was 52,000.

“Despite some of the problems associated with these wintering birds as reported by ice skaters on Sheldon Lake at City Park and, if it’s an open winter, by golfers, all in all the surveys that we’ve conducted of the people in Fort Collins state that the geese contribute significantly to the quality of life here.”
--Gene Schoonveld, 1992


Mystery Photo:
Where in Fort Collins was this week's picture taken?

1 comment:

Tonja said...

We have a lot of geese at the neighborhood lake near our home. I'm glad our house isn't on the lake, although it's beautiful. The geese are kind of vicious.