By Alex Fees
ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. (KSDK) - Missouri Department of Conservation officials say snow geese from the Arctic tundra have winged their way to the Show Me State.
Dan Zarlenga, a media specialist with the Missouri Department of Conservation, says snow geese can be seen in northern St. Charles and Lincoln Counties by the tens of thousands.
"Normally we have snow geese around here this time of year but we do have an exceptionally large number right now," Zarlenga says, "because there's heavy snow out in the western part of the state where they normally like to hang out. So that's driving them to the eastern part of the state and to us because we have excellent geese habitat in the St. Louis area."
Zarlenga says the geese are drawn to Missouri's marshes, wetlands, and crop fields. It's where they find their food.
"Mainly they're concentrated in the northern part of St. Charles County and Lincoln County," he says. "A very good place to see snow geese is take highway 79 up north or south, along the St. Charles and Lincoln County border. And there's a lot of them in various fields and stuff in that area."
Zarlenga says conservation officials count the geese by estimating how many of the animals will fit in certain space, and then measuring that space. They counted birds in the B.K. Leach Conservation Area in Lincoln County.
"Last count as of last week there were about 7,000 birds on the area and about 15,000 birds in the vicinity," he says. "But it's nothing to see groupings of 20,000 - 30,000 of them at times."
Zarlenga says the window of opportunity for hunters, photographers and nature seekers is coming to a close.
"They will be here for a while," he says, "until basically the weather warms up and the snow starts melting up north and they're going to migrate up north again. So it could be mid-March, late March. It really depends on the weather."
Zarlenga says the geese will return to their nesting grounds in the Arctic tundra.