Flyway management plan Effects on being Afraid for humans and Running away in GEESE (FEARGEESE)

Measuring domain of danger of Barnacle Geese in Ny-Ålesund and Longyearbyen. Proposal to the Svalbard Environmental Fund.

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  • terrestrial biology

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  • biological classification / animals/vertebrates / birds
  • human dimensions / environmental impacts / civil disturbance
  • human dimensions / environmental governance/management

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Decades of protection from hunting has changed the behaviour of Barnacle Geese. They are used to the proximity to people and moulting flocks of Barnacle Geese have established close to the villages Ny-Ålesund and Longyearbyen. Moulting geese cannot fly. They are usually extremely shy and make only soft sounds. Now, especially family groups can be approached by people to a very close distance before running away. In 1999 and 2000, we have measured escape flight distances in Ny-Ålesund and our impression is that they have decreased even further. It is timely to repeat these measurements as there is a major international change in conservation status in the making. Migratory Barnacle Geese were rare in the mid-20th century but are now one of the fastest increasing goose populations, benefiting from their protection especially in competition with heavily hunted Pink-footed Geese. In the field, it is often not noted that in the background Barnacle Goose flocks without young and Pink-footed Geese are disturbed at a much larger distance. This study can provide valuable data to understand the impact of people on wildlife.

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