COLUMBIA – Missouri Department of Conservation biologists counted an estimated 30,000 snow geese on a city lake at midday Thursday and promptly issued a news release alerting wildlife watchers to the "amazing sight."
By 3 p.m., the A. Perry Philips Park Lake west of U.S. 63 on the city's south side was empty, and there were no snow geese in sight. Where they went was anyone's guess.
Wildlife Regional Supervisor John George of the Conservation Department said late Thursday afternoon that the migratory birds could still be in Boone County or headed elsewhere.
George said he'd heard about the large flocks of snow geese for the past 10 days in other parts of Boone, Callaway and Audrain counties.
The snow geese are migrating north, but cold fronts can slow their northward push, George said.
Snow geese populations have grown to historically high levels in recent years, resulting in overgrazing and degrading of the northern arctic tundra where they nest. George understands why some farmers would be concerned about crop damage but said snow geese are not as prevalent as Canada geese and are not known to pick at crops to the extent of Canada geese.