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"Large Race" Canada goose?

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  • "Large Race" Canada goose?

    Just received feedback from my wing survey for last season waterfowl hunting. I sent in only twenty-six envelopes with wing/tail feathers. For the first time Environment Canada reported identifying one of my birds as "Canada goose, large race." Presumably this was a "giant" subspecies. They were thought at one time to be extinct until a small flock was rediscovered near Rochester, MN in 1964, the year I started hunting. I knew efforts were subsequently made to reintroduce them but I thought they were strictly non-migratory. I guess not. We have no resident geese here. All are migratory. Like almost every subspecies, the giant has made a remarkable recovery. I do remember one set of wingtip primaries were so long they almost didn't fit in the envelope. That must have been the one. The rest of the geese were listed as "Canada goose." Undoubtedly the "Interior Canada goose" subspecies.

  • #2
    You learn something every day Honk, that’s really cool. I know it’s been awhile but did you see a difference in size ( notable difference ) besides the wing filling the envelope?

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Pmacc60 View Post
      You learn something every day Honk, that’s really cool. I know it’s been awhile but did you see a difference in size ( notable difference ) besides the wing filling the envelope?
      To clarify: Every year Environment Canada sends me fifteen wing survey envelopes after I buy my federal waterfowl license/stamp. About every other year I have to request additional envelopes (I usually order 75). There is a large plastic ziplok mailing envelope and a smaller paper envelope for feathers/wings that goes inside. They send a sheet of stickers with my name etc. and a barcode to attach to each mail envelope. I write the location of harvest on that envelope. Postage paid of course. For ducks we send in a whole wing. For geese it's all tail feathers plus tips of first three wing "primaries". These are the longest feathers on the bird. Cut them off at the point where they meet the shorter "secondary" feathers. I usually send off duck wings immediately (they get smelly) but save goose envelopes till end of the year. Gives me some idea if I'm going overboard with harvest. Also it's a yearly ritual for me and my grandson to mail them while mom is Christmas shopping.

      I recall that one goose this past season was so noticeably large that I stood on the scales with it. Must have been this bird. It weighed only fourteen pounds. Thought it would be more. Largest honker I have shot was a sixteen pounder in Montana back in the early eighties. Somewhere there is a B&W photo of me holding its foot at my belt and its head and part of neck are on the ground (I am - or was - 6'1" tall). At that time restoration of giants was twenty years along but if any had been released in the Valley's resident population, I didn't know about it. The average birds there were nine to eleven pounds. Within each subspecies there can be considerable size variation because honkers have been known to live thirty years (if memory serves me correctly, sixteen years is average life span). Also interbreeding among subspecies is not uncommon. Was the goose I shot this year truly a giant subspecies or just a very old "Interior Canada goose" subspecies? I don't believe they could tell for certain just looking at the tail/wing feathers (there are other discreet differences in body feather patterns). I do remember the weighed bird was a particularly beautiful specimen. I may have been noticing the much paler belly feathers of a giant honker.
      Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 07-18-2020, 01:36 PM.

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      • #4
        I wonder if when they see something out of the ordinary maybe they run a DNA test or so?

        I've never bought a Duck stamp but I have to get a HIP number each year for woodcock. Somehow I landed on USF&W's list and have received envelopes the past several years. Ive only sent in a few wings but always fill out the questionnaire so they keep me on the list. I've also done NY's Bowhunter log for over ten years. Never kept a copy, duh!

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        • #5
          The sixteen pound honker in Montana is an interesting story. Back then honkers were still in recovery from near extinction prior to WWII. So daily limit was two and possession four (now daily limit here for first two weeks is ten and unlimited in possession). I knew a resident flock of geese were hiding on a backwater upriver from our house. Spotted them flying over when I showed up at my parents' house for weekend visit with my oldest daughter (I had just started a teaching job in Idaho). Next morning I sneaked out of the house with my Lab before anyone was up. It was about five miles to the backwater, very cold, and new snow almost knee deep. It was no problem getting the drop on the geese. We snuck through the thick timber to a ten foot cutbank immediately above the flock. I released Ethyl and fired just one shot into them as they lifted from the water. Three geese fell. All were crippled. Ethyl was quite small for a Lab (actually Lab/golden cross) but she was hell on geese! I was running along the bank and wringing necks as she brought them in. She barely caught up to the last one before it got to the river. Thankfully it just laid over and gave up because Ethyl was about done in. Dispatched it and turned to see a huge otter poking around the other two dead geese dropped behind us on the bank. I whooped and he swam to the other side where he chirped and rolled, inviting Ethyl to come and play ... so he could drown her! I ordered her to leave it alone and she did. But she sure was curious about that thing! A couple of kids trapped him later that year. Reportedly seven feet long and hardly any teeth left. Looking at the geese it seemed I had two youngsters and a mature one, perhaps a parent. Later, when I started to pick one of the youngsters it became clear from size of the breast that this was no kid! I threw it on the baby scale. Eleven pounds. That's a full fledged adult. Then just how big is that other one? Wow! Called my dad downstairs and he couldn't believe it. He took the photo. Wish I could find it. This is Ethyl (1977-1988).
          Click image for larger version

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          Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 07-18-2020, 03:21 PM.

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          • #6
            There are 7 recognized subspecies of Canada geese: Atlantic, Hudson Bay or Interior, Giant, Moffitt's or Great Basin, Lesser, Dusky and Vancouver. In general, the subspecies nesting farther north are smaller in size and darker in color to the west.

            The first major difference is that Greater and Lesser Canada Geese rarely intermix during migration or breeding. ... When targeting the Lesser Canada Goose in a field hunting situation in most instances, the flock sizes are much larger than one would normally find with the family groups of Greater Canada Geese.

            I've been aware of the "greater" and "lesser" for quite a while. We have a resident population of the "greater" that summer here in OK.
            What I wasn't aware of was the 7 different "categories" of Canada's!
            "Large race" is a rather curious designation. I'm supposing it's just a local connotation of "Greater". Not that it amounts to a hill of beans.

            Ennywho, learnt sumpin!😃

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            • #7
              P.S. Honk, in comparison, according to the NWTF, Rio and Eastern turkeys are the largest breeds with the largest recorded birds of over 36 pounds!
              The biggest I've taken has been 23 pounds!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post
                There are 7 recognized subspecies of Canada geese: Atlantic, Hudson Bay or Interior, Giant, Moffitt's or Great Basin, Lesser, Dusky and Vancouver. In general, the subspecies nesting farther north are smaller in size and darker in color to the west.

                The first major difference is that Greater and Lesser Canada Geese rarely intermix during migration or breeding. ... When targeting the Lesser Canada Goose in a field hunting situation in most instances, the flock sizes are much larger than one would normally find with the family groups of Greater Canada Geese.

                I've been aware of the "greater" and "lesser" for quite a while. We have a resident population of the "greater" that summer here in OK.
                What I wasn't aware of was the 7 different "categories" of Canada's!
                "Large race" is a rather curious designation. I'm supposing it's just a local connotation of "Greater". Not that it amounts to a hill of beans.

                Ennywho, learnt sumpin!😃
                The taxonomic term "lesser Canada goose" was dropped fifteen years ago. No such thing. "Lesser" Canadas are in fact a separate species, not even close genetically to true Canada geese. These former lesser Canadas are now cackling geese, also with several subspecies. There never was any such thing as "greater" Canada geese. The most easily apparent difference between the two species is bill size relative to their bodies (and particularly bill length). So how did a separate species evolve to so closely resemble another? The accepted theory is mimicry. The classic example of mimicry is the tasty viceroy butterfly evolving to look identical to the larger very bad tasting monarch butterfly. Birds don't bother the viceroy because they think it's a monarch. Similarly, Canada geese are simply too large for any birds of prey to tackle safely (keep in mind that when a raptor closes its talons it can only release them with difficulty, usually after perched). In flight raptors lose perspective and have difficulty ascertaining that a small cackling goose is not an oversize honker. So they leave them alone. Cacklers often mix it up with equally small snow geese. Do raptors tackle them then? Probably not. Size of snows is a given and cacklers are still questionable. Attack what you know for certain you can handle. Especially when they are plentiful.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by fitch270 View Post
                  I wonder if when they see something out of the ordinary maybe they run a DNA test or so?
                  Up here a migratory waterfowl stamp and license (the stamp is affixed to the license) is required for hunting or possessing any migratory game birds. I just presumed it was the same in US. Environment Canada is careful to confirm that any wing survey information cannot be used to prosecute criminal behaviour. But I'm sure anything askance turned in will put the hunter on a local watch list! The biggest concern right now is Barrows goldeneye recovery. We may lose this bird to extinction. Problem is in flight it is difficult to differentiate male Barrows from more numerous common goldeneye unless they are flying by close. It is almost impossible to differentiate the hens of the two species ... even when they are in hand! There is a very slight difference in wing color patterns. So if a hunter sends in several Barrows wings, he can expect to get a lecture from the feds (one would hope anyway) and possibly checked by enforcement on a regular basis. Personally, I think the feds should drop the limit on both species to only one until Barrows is recovered. Goldeneyes usually aren't great eating anyway. And there is no problem differentiating goldeneye ducks from other species, even the hens. Their wings make a very loud and distinctive whistling noise in flight.

                  Had DNA testing been available when giant Canada recovery was first undertaken, they might have learned that the subspecies was doing better than expected and actually migrating (it was initially assumed they were nonmigratory). Giants have rebounded to the point now where it's kinda immaterial. Banding is still the best method of tracking migratory changes in the species. The techs doing the banding are usually experts at identifying subspecies. Any potential hybrid trapped might have DNA samples taken for verification. I suspect hybrids with domestic geese (and I have seen one) are destroyed if caught. These would be considered potentially invasive species.
                  Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 07-18-2020, 02:56 PM.

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                  • #10
                    Just offering up the info I found, Honk.
                    Thought others might find it interesting too.

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                    • #11
                      Goose lives matter! Being called "lesser" hurts! Goose racists have to be called out and woke! How does it feel to be dominated by large race geese? Systemic gooseism!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by franchi20 View Post
                        Goose lives matter! Being called "lesser" hurts! Goose racists have to be called out and woke! How does it feel to be dominated by large race geese? Systemic gooseism!
                        Lol that’s great !

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                        • #13
                          Should we all be on alert for a "flyby goosing"?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by FirstBubba View Post
                            Just offering up the info I found, Honk.
                            Thought others might find it interesting too.
                            Found where? There is no such thing as greater Canada goose. Never was. The subspecies of Canada goose were identified before genetic testing. I'd have to double check but I believe it was also known back then that "lesser Canada goose" was actually a separate species with it's own multiple subspecies. It just took taxonomists a long time to dump the misleading Canada in the genus name.

                            If you look at bodies only, it can sometimes be difficult to tell in hand an adult larger subspecies of cackling goose from a first year honker. Only a pound or two difference. Look at their bills and that will tell the tale. Some of the smaller subspecies of cackling geese are quite small. One morning I was set up under an old red pine in the middle of a cut corn field. Geese had just started flying at daybreak, mostly snows/blues (we had a lot of them coming through in those days). But a few honkers were also moving. And then I spotted a lone black goose coming. It shut up, a clear indication it was committed to land. Pearl was two years old and our only dog at that time. I ordered her to sit and stay put, got the old 870 up, and waited for the honker to get in range. And waited and waited and then plop there it was on the ground less than twenty yards in front of us. What the ...? Pearl took off, the goose jumped up, and I dropped it easily. She brought in this "honker" the size of a mallard duck! Later the snow geese piled into the field across the road that's closed to hunting. Pearl and I got as close as we could and hid in the brush on the fence line next to the road, waiting to maybe catch a couple of shots when the geese left. I did get one longish shot and dropped one goose. But instead of a snow, Pearl handed me this honker the same size as a snow goose. As we were walking back across the field to the deeks Pearl found a big honker I'd shot the evening before. Weather was very cold and bird was still fine so I took it home. That was my first experience with "lesser Canada geese" and I was lucky enough to shoot two subspecies. Somewhere I have a photo of the three very different size geese lying together on our kitchen floor with a proud young Pearl guarding them.
                            Last edited by Ontario Honker Hunter; 07-23-2020, 10:58 AM.

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                            • #15
                              No reason to be a turd, Honk. I just looked up Canada goose species on Google.

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