Those on the West Side are probably familiar with the flocks of migratory geese that winter in the alfalfa and corn fields near Patterson. What you may not know is that some of those “Canadian geese” are a sub-species called Aleutian Cackling Geese. Once thought to be extinct this species of goose has made an astounding recovery due in part to The San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, located in our own backyard.

In 1966 the species was designated as endangered under the Endangered Species Preservation Act, with fewer than 1,000 birds known in existence. Today, those numbers are closer to 200,000 and the species has been removed from the endangered list. “Restoring wetlands and providing grasslands and croplands at this refuge has provided ideal wintering habitat for the geese,” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

The San Joaquin Refuge has two access points. The entrance located at 2714 Dairy Road in Vernalis will grant visitors’ access to the Pelican Nature Trail that is open daily, year round. The entrance located at 10990 Beckwith Road in Modesto grants access to a wildlife viewing area that is open daily from mid-October to mid-March, both access points are open one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.

There are a variety of birds and other animals to observe at The San Joaquin Refuge. It’s a great place to walk your dog, have a picnic, and spend some time in nature.

To learn more about the Aleutian Cackling Goose and to plan your trip to the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge visit:

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