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Wrangel Island Snow Geese with Vasiliy Baranyuk
February 10, 2018 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Please join us for a talk by Vasiliy Baranyuk, the renowned Russian researcher and snow goose expert. He will take us on an excursion of Wrangel Island through videos and photos of this extraordinary place.
Wrangel Island, approximately 100 miles north of the Siberian mainland, is the northernmost UNESCO World Heritage site and home to many of the iconic animals of the Arctic – polar bears, walrus, musk ox, wolves, arctic foxes and snowy owls. It was the last refuge for the woolly mammoth, which still lived on the island at the time that the pyramids of Giza were being built.
This fascinating place has a special connection to the Skagit Valley – the tens of thousands of snow geese that flock to our fields and bays during the winter months were all born on Wrangel Island – nearly 3000 miles way.
The Wrangel Island snow goose population “represents the last major snow goose population breeding in Asia and the primary Russian goose population that winters in North America” (Pacific Flyway Council). The number of geese nesting on Wrangel Island and subsequently wintering in the Pacific Northwest has increased greatly over the past half-century. In the mid-1970s, the Snow goose population on Wrangel Island declined to a little over 50,000 birds, with approximately 12,000-15,000 birds wintering in the Skagit and Fraser valleys combined. However, since then Snow goose population has risen significantly with as many as 350,000 returning to the island in recent years, and around 100,000 of those birds spending the winter in the North Puget Sound (Stillaguamish-Skagit-Frasier basins).
Having spent more than three decades studying the island’s ecosystem, and snow geese in particular, Vasiliy has a keen understanding of how all the island’s species relate to each other and has observed firsthand how climate change is affecting the Arctic. His presentation will show the beautiful and sometimes harsh realities of the Arctic, where life is often surprisingly abundant but always threatened by the caprices of nature.