Thousands of of Red-breasted geese perished because of foul weather in Kalmykya


The discovery was reported by Sonia B. Rozenfeld from the Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution, Russian academy of sciences.

"In the middle of December in Priyutnensky region of Kalmykya on the huge winter wheat field hunters registered thousands of dead geese and little bustards. Most of them were Red-breasted geese, but also Lesser white-fronted geese. The cause of the death was the uncommon weather conditions – snow with rain in combination of frost of minus 10 degrees. Thus, the snow was transformed immediately into a thick ice layer, which covered the vegetation and the birds were caught in the ice shell (see bellow). The thickness of ice carapace on the geese attained 15 cm and didn"t permit them to move. The main part of the injured/dead geese were juveniles. The hunters Povolozky Vladimir and Savtchenko Viktor saved 17 living Red-breasted geese. They released the geese from the ice and transported them with their car to Priyutnoe village, where the geese were heated in a hen house. The hunters informed about the tragedy to the Ministry of natural resources of Kalmykya. In the next day when the snow already melted, the Red-breasted geese were released. Three birds couldn’t fly and were transported to the center of wild animals of Kalmykya "Esmeli". We hope that these birds will survive and next spring will be released to the wild. Vladimir and Viktor kindly presented a video made in the place of the tragedy, but the quality of this film didn’t permit to estimate the exact number of perished geese. By the time of the special inspection of this field by the officials from the ministry, the foxes and other raptors already pulled apart the remains of the perished geese and little bustards. The hunters estimated the number of dead Red-breasted geese as about 1000 individuals, the official inspectors appr. 300. The inspection showed that the single cause of this mass mortality of birds was the weather conditions. Over the last years this is the first occurrence of such mass mortality of rare geese in Kalmykya. Most likely this "frozen" flock was not the only one. Thus, it is impossible to give an exact estimate of the number of Red-breasted geese and Lesser white-fronted geese which perished in Russia in December. We would like to thank Vladimir Povolozky and Viktor Savtchenko for their responsibility and help to save these rare wild geese that got into trouble".


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