Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildlife Management


A study of giant Canada goose (Branta Canadensis maxima) restoration in western South Dakota was conducted during 1970 and 1971. Nesting, production and mortality, homing, and pioneering were evaluated both years. Nesting began April 4 in 1970 and extended for 73 days, but the peak of nesting occurred from April 29 to May 5. In 1971, nesting began April 1 and continued for 69 days, with the peak occurring April 8-14. The peak of hatching occurred June 6-12 in 1970 and May 8-14 during 1971. Small stockponds were utilized for nesting both years. Islands were preferred nesting sites. Peninsulas and shore sites contained over half of the nests and artificial structures were also used. Of the 82 nest observed, 85 percent were in ungrazed areas. Nests on land were found an average of 27 feet from water and 68 percent were within 15 feet. The mean elevation above water was 3.4 feet for all nests; 3.7 feet for land nests and 1.6 feet for nests in artificial structures. Almost all nest sites were found in relatively bare areas and afforded maximum visibility for the nesting geese. Thirty-four plant species were observed at nest sites, but no species was preferred. Thirty-two clutches has 158 eggs during 1970, and 50 clutches had 273 eggs during 1971; mean clutch size was 4.9 eggs in 1970 and 5.5 in 1971. Clutches ranged from 2 to 9 eggs during the 2-year period. Clutches of 1 to 4 eggs had 45.5 percent hatchability, and larger clutches of 5 to 9 eggs had hatchability of 73.1 percent. Of the 82 nests, 78.1 percent successfully hatched and 15.9 percent were destroyed; 12.2 percent by mammalian predators and 3.7 percent by flooding. Desertion occurred in 3.6 percent of the nests, and eggs in 2.4 percent were incubated but failed to hatch. Infertility accounted for 14.2 of the egg loss. Embryonic death occurred in 5.6 percent of the eggs, and 11.8 percent were destroyed. During the 2 years, 293 goslings were produced form 64 nests. Of these, 263 (89.2 percent) were raised to flight stage. Ninety-one percent of the gosling mortality occurred during the initial 2 weeks following hatching when broods were moving between water areas. Broods in the Belvidere area moved an average of 2.7 miles before congregating on a rearing-molting area. The sex ratio of 136 adults homing to the study area was 1.1 females per male and 29 yearlings that homed had a sex ratio of 2.2. Pioneering was limited both years. Seventy percent of the geese were recaptured within 5 miles of the dam on which they were reared or released in previous years. The mean distance moved from the original release site to the site of recapture was 1.0 miles. Of 64 geese released in 1970, 6 pairs that returned in 1971 were observed to have pioneered an average of only 3.4 miles from the release site. High nest success, low mortality of goslings, and homing to the area of release have all contributed to the success of the restoration project. The population is now self-sustaining and will continue to grow if factors affecting production remain favorable and mortality factors do not increase appreciably.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Canada goose -- South Dakota
Birds -- South Dakota
Wildlife management -- South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references (pages 52-55)



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


No Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Only