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Geese vs. Hunters

November 2, 2017

Geese are holing up in the big city during the winter to avoid hunters.

Transcript

John W. Iwanski flickr CC-BY-NC-2.0

Canada geese in Chicago. (John W. Iwanski/flickr/CC-BY-NC-2.0)

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Geese vs. hunters. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Canada geese used to spend their summers in the north and overwinter in the southern states. But many are now flocking to northern cities like Chicago during colder months even though food is scarce there. Now, there’s evidence that the birds may be choosing to hang out on the the tops of urban factories and in industrial rail yards to avoid hunters. University of Illinois ornithologist Mark Ward and his colleagues tracked the birds’ movements for more than a year using a cellular network.

MIKE WARD (University of Illinois):

They learn very quickly from each other where areas are safe and not safe.

HIRSHON:

The researchers report in The Condor that most of the birds didn’t leave the city during hunting season, and half of those that did were shot by hunters.

WARD:

It only takes a couple mistakes to end up on somebody’s dinner table. So, I think there ’s really strong selection pressure to stay in these urban areas.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard