Threats and actions
Project LWfG wants to act against as many threats towards the LWfG population as possible. During the years that Project LWfG has been active some threats has been averted while others has increased.
Major population decrease during 20th century.
Project LWfG started their work with releasing captive bred birds when the population was nearly extinct. Through this hard work for many years the population went from decreasing rapidly to slowly increasing.
High mortality during migration
When the project started their work, the LWfG in Sweden migrated southeast through Russia towards western Asia and eastern Europe. During this migration route the mortality was high, mainly because of high hunting pressure and environmental changes. So, in the beginning of the project, captive bred LWfG was released with barnacle geese as foster parents. Barnacle geese migrates to The Netherlands and did then imprint this behavior on the LWfG nestlings. The result of this is that the population of LWfG today migrates mainly to The Netherlands and the mortality during migration and wintering is minimal.
Predation in the breeding area
All land breeding bird species is vulnerable to predation and the LWfG is no exception. Even though this is a natural element, the Swedish population of LWfG is still so small so that every individual is important.
The advances of the red fox in the Swedish mountainous area have been a hard blow for both LWfG and other artic specialists as the Artic Fox. Project LWfG and the municipality has during the years put in a lot of effort in hunting red fox in the breeding area of LWfG.
Predation from white tailed eagle on molting adult geese is still a big problem at the breeding site. It is hard to solve since this individual eagle that has specialized on predating on LWfG also is a protected species.
Disturbance from fishers walking alongside mountain lakes where the LWfG is breeding can be a big problem. Sometimes it only takes one disturbance for a couple to abandon their nest. A problem with disturbance from motor driven vehicles connected with managing reindeers has also been detected. The project is keeping a dialog with the municipality to set up protection areas around the breeding sites.
Increasing hunting pressure at wintering sites
One of the reasons why the migration route for the Swedish LWfG was altered to The Netherlands to begin with was that geese hunting was almost nonexistent there. Although resent years the costs of damage caused by geese has increased enormously in The Netherlands and therefore they have started hunting geese again. The project is, through dialog with authorities, hunters and bird watchers’ organizations in The Netherlands acting for decisions that will make these hunting actions interfere with the LWfGs as little as possible. For example, to only allow hunting during periods of the year when LWfG do not appear in the Netherlands.
A good molting site is extremely important for geese since they shed all their wing pens at the same time and therefore temporarily loses their ability to fly. A molting site needs to have high qualitative forage and a low number of predators. The project LWfG has started to map out the molting places of LWfG. One important molting site for the Swedish population of LWfG is in Lillfjärden in Hudiksvall. This place is very special since it consists of a lake and a city park which attracts a lot of wild birds. The pasturage is limited because of high grazing pressure from all the wild graylag geese choosing to molt here. Efforts have been made in trying to disturb the graylag geese. This, with the purpose of getting them to choose a different molting site, thus the efforts only had a limited effect. The project is having a dialog with the authorities on further actions to favor those LWfG whom choose this molting site.
There are a few well-known staging sites in Sweden that are frequently used by LWfG on their spring- and autumn migration. These sites are already protected and managed in a way that favors LWfG. But still there are some staging sites that are unknown to the project. To find, protect and manage these sites are prioritized actions for project LWfG.