Island National Seashore offers protective sanctuary for snow geese
numbering in the thousands. Birdwatchers witness many large flocks
that are on their annual migration. Assateague birdwatchers get to
watch them spiral downward during landing and provide a breathtaking
experience. Large groups of snow geese nest during the summer in the
far north then return to Assateague during the fall. They feed primarily
on plant material including wildgrass roots, seeds, berries, and nearby
goose populations declined during the 1970's and 1980's largely due
to coastal marsh damage. During the 1990's, their numbers increased
to the point of endangering fragile Arctic tundra and themselves.
Hunting bag limits have been increased in an effort to reduce their
numbers to a sustainable level. Although the majority of snow geese
are white with black wing tips, a few come in a blue color variation
known as blue geese.