Goose 2012

Conference report

The 14th GSG-meeting in Steinkjer, Norway.

The 14th meeting of the Goose Specialist Group (GSG) held in Steinkjer, Norway from 17 – 21 April 2012 was an outstanding success. The meeting was hosted by the University College in Nord-Trøndelag (HiNT) at the Faculty of Agriculture and Information Technology in Steinkjer. back to meetings

Group picture Elista 2011

The inspiring opening words by Hanne Solheim Hansen from the University College set the scene for a very fruitful and lively meeting, which was attended by 70 participants from 18 different countries.

Group picture Elista 2011
Opening of conference by Hanne Solheim Hansen

Students from the Nord-Trøndelag University college filmed all talks during the conference and also the excursion, and the results from the videostreaming can be found at the following webpage: To access this site, you will need a username and password, which will be given to you onrequest. Request should be sent to Per Ivar Nicolaisen ( of the organizing committee. On the special conference website ( you can also find pictures from the conference.
The Stichting Support Meetings of the Goose Specialist Group managed to obtain € 10,000 form sponsors to support 13 participants from 7 countries covering part of their travelling and conference costs. This support was generated from generous gifts from the Dutch Faunafonds, WWF-NL and Wetlands International. The meeting itself was sponsored by the hosts at HiNT, as well as from the Norwegian Directorate for Nature Management and the Department of the Environment at the County Governors Office (Fylkesmannen i Nord-Trøndelag). We greatly acknowledge these sponsors.
The local organizers Paul Shimmings, Per Ivar Nicolaisen and Jan Eivind Østnes supported by Sonja Ekker, Rolf Terje Kroglund and Tor Kvam did an excellent job in organizing this meeting.
The scientific committee, consisting of  Jouke Prop, Carl Mitchell, Paul Shimmings and Ingunn Tombre, selected  46 oral presentations and 6 poster presentations for this conference, which focussed on Svalbard populations of Pink-footed (Anser brachyrhynchus) and Barnacle geese (Branta leucopsis), of Greylag Geese (Anser anser) nesting in Norway and wintering in Spain, but the programme included also more general themes, like:

  • how Greater White-fronted Geese follow the green wave during spring migration though central Russia,
  • about the breeding biology of the strongly increasing population of Barnacle Geese on Kolguyev Island, Russia, 
  • about a circumpolar meta-analysis on the impact of global warming on breeding success of arctic-nesting geese, etc.
Group picture Elista 2011
Neckbanded Pink-footed Goose and welcoming committee

On top of that special workshops were held on marking techniques, reporting of marked geese through websites like  and to help volunteer observers submitting their observations, monitoring goose numbers, and a workshop on the impact of hunting on goose populations.
The marked increase in numbers in most, but not all (!), goose populations is met with the request to control goose numbers at a desired level in several countries. This, however, requires sound knowledge about the impact of control measures on the population dynamics of geese, and such knowledge is lacking in most European countries. It was therefore encouraging to hear that both Denmark and Norway have made funds available for research into such control measures envisaged for the population of Pink-footed Geese nesting on Svalbard, which is one of the best studied goose populations in the world with both a high proportion of marked individuals and very accurate annual censuses of the entire population.

The proceedings will be published in the online  journal  ORNIS NORVEGICA  ( ). Ornis Norvegica is a peer-reviewed, online and open access journal publishing papers in all fields of ornithology. Both subscription and publishing are free of charge, and we will gain from the flexibility in length of the papers, pictures and colourful graphs. All manuscripts will be “labelled” so that it is easy to see that this was a contribution in our conference (may also be labelled with our new logo, if that is finished by the time our first paper is released). Paul Shimmings will have a co-editorial responsibility for our manuscripts, and we expect all to contribute in terms of referee-work. Each author has to register as guided on the web-page for Ornis Norvegica, and thereafter submit the manuscript and its attachments as an email-message. If you are interested in having your presentation, or a part of it, included in the proceedings send  a message that you will contribute with a manuscript to  before 25th of May 2012. After that send your contribution when ready, but before 1 October 2012, and these will be published consecutively.

Group picture Elista 2011
Great welcome in Beitstad, Vellamelen by the local school children

During the mid-conference excursion we saw thousands of spring-staging Pink-footed geese and White-tailed eagles in the beautiful Norwegian fjords. Many neckbands of Pink-footed Geese were identified, and we received a great welcome in Beitstad, Vellamelen by the local school children, dressed up as geese with pink legs, who celebrate the spring migration of Pink-footed Geese during a special Goose Day.”Gjess we can” was one of the slogans (Gjess is Norwegian for geese).

Our specialist group does not yet have a logo, and several drafts of possible logos were shown to the participants by Berend Voslamber.  Because none of these draft logos generated an immediate enthusiastic response by the participants, it was decided not to choose one of the presented examples, but  to send ideas and comments on these drafts to Berend Voslamber  ( ) and to finally involve all GSG-members (660 by now) in selecting an appropriate logo. More news about this logo-selection will be on our website later this year.

The Goose Specialist Group is part of a much larger family of Specialist Groups under the umbrellas of the IUCN-Species Survival Commission and Wetlands International. The chairman reported briefly about the recent meeting in Abu Dhabi of all Specialist Group Chairs (website), and at the end of the meeting a renewed contract with Wetlands International was signed on behalf of the GSG-board by the chairman.

At the closure of the meeting the chairman once more called upon all participants that further financial support for the continuation of the work of the Goose Specialist Group is needed. Anyone who would like to contribute even the smallest amount is kindly requested to donate to the charity “Stichting Support  Meetings of the Goose Specialist Group.” (see this website under Sponsoring). This will not only allow this charity to support GSG-members to attend our regular meetings, but also to support the website to track marked geese, which from now on will be run officially by the Goose Specialist Group.

Bart Ebbinge (Chairman GSG), Thomas Heinicke,  Jesper Madsen, Ingunn Tombre and Berend Voslamber (board members GSG).

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