A flock of cackling geese forages on a new crop of SIWA green forage on the Sauvie Island Wildlife Area’s Eastside unit, which will be closed to public access until May 1 under temporary rules adopted this week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The extended closure was adopted to protect the geese and neighboring croplands. Biologists have noticed that the geese are waiting until later in the year to begin their northward migration.
SAUVIE ISLAND, Ore. – The Sauvie Island Wildlife Area Eastside Units will be closed through April 30 to protect wintering geese, under temporary rules adopted this week by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.
These areas, which are closed after waterfowl hunting seasons end in January to protect wintering birds, normally reopen April 16. However, this year the closure has been extended to accommodate cackler geese, which are staying on the island longer than in the past.
“Our waterfowl surveys indicate that geese are waiting until later in the year to begin their flights to the north,” said Mark Nebeker, SIWA manager. “We believe that extending the closure period by two weeks will give the birds time to prepare for their migration and at the same time keep them from moving on to neighboring farms where they could cause significant crop damage.”
Wildlife managers are concerned that public access to the SIWA could keep the geese from using important foraging areas or drive them onto neighboring private lands where they might cause damage to emerging crops, which are green and tender this time of year. By planting crops and providing a safe-haven with limited access to humans, ODFW is able to keep most of the birds within the SIWA during their time on the island.
Locations affected by the extended closure include all of the lands within the Eastside levee, McNary and Aaron lakes and the pasture lands along Reeder Road north to the Gilbert River Boat Ramp Access Road. These areas will be closed to all forms of human activity during this period, including kayaking, angling and hiking.
The Westside, Oak Island and North units will open on April 16, as usual. Webster Pond and Haldeman Pond, two popular fishing areas in the Oak Island Unit, are unaffected by the extended closure and will open April 16.
Despite the seasonal closure of sensitive wintering areas, waterfowl viewing is still available at the SIWA. Thousands of waterfowl are on the island, and huge flocks can be seen from Coon Point, Rentenaar Road, and ODFW’s Eastside viewing platform.
Sauvie Island, located on the Columbia River 10 miles north of Portland, is a main stopping point for migratory birds as they travel along the Pacific Flyway. ODFW owns actively manages the 11,500-acre SIWA to provide food and cover for these birds and other wildlife species.