Outdoors Blog

Fort Boise wildlife area welcomes tens of thousands of snow geese — a spring tradition

I tried to catch the massive snow goose migration through the Fort Boise Wildlife Management Area near Parma last year. I saw some but missed the giant flocks.

The geese are there now — so don’t waste any time if you want to see the spectacle of thousands of geese flying in and out of the WMA on a daily basis. Nobody knows when they’ll leave.

“It’s sudden,” WMA manager Tyler Archibald said in an Idaho Fish and Game post about the geese. “When they decide to go, they’re gone.”

The WMA is owned by Fish and Game and used for bird hunting in the fall and winter. In the late winter and early spring, it becomes a stopover for migrating snow and greater white-fronted geese headed as far as Siberia. The population is estimated to get as high as 60,000. They stay for about six weeks.

The geese usually leave the Fort Boise ponds just before dawn and just before sunset. They return a few hours later, making late morning a good time to watch for them. However, if it’s cloudy or stormy the geese might not return until after noon.

Roger Phillips of Fish and Game described the geese arrival as “a cross between aerial ballet and a dogfight as thousands of geese spiral out of the sky in a chaotic mass.”

A viewing platform built last year allows visitors to get about 15 feet off the ground, greatly improving sight lines. The $20,000 project was a partnership between Idaho Fish and Game, Idaho Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Golden Eagle Audubon Society and Southwestern Idaho Birders Association.

“This is the first snow goose viewing season that it’s been up,” Archibald said. “And we have a bunch of people using it.”

More information about the Fort Boise WMA, including directions, here.

Goose poaching case

Idaho Fish and Game is asking for help on a case involving the waste of five Canada geese that were discovered Feb. 17 at Mountain Home Reservoir. The birds were killed elsewhere and disposed of at the reservoir, according to Fish and Game. At least one of the birds had canine bite marks, likely from a retrieving dog.

Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) is offering a reward for information. Contact CAP at 800-632-5999.