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Canada Goose

Various Classifications


Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Uluagullik

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) - Nirliq

Brant (Branta bernicla) - Niglignaq

Population Status

Distribution:

Migration: Brant and White-fronted geese are common migrants across the Yukon coastal plain, while Canada Geese are uncommon during migration.

Breeding/nesting: All three species breed along the Yukon coastal plain in small numbers. Brant are slightly more common but also more localized than the other two species. There are four known Brant breeding colonies, with fewer than 200 breeders. White-fronted and Canada geese are solitary, dispersed nesters and more difficult to locate and count. Both species are uncommon breeders along the coastal plain.

Fall staging: Besides the local breeding populations, only White-fronted Geese stage along the Yukon coastal plain. As many as 18,000 White-fronts have been observed in the Babbage River delta. Brant use the outer marine deltas in large numbers at times during migration.

Population size:

Population size is difficult to define and measure. Up to 40,000 White-fronted Geese migrate across the Yukon coastal plain and at least 25,000 Brant migrate along the coast. Probably fewer than 200 geese breed, and probably fewer than 20,000 stage on the Yukon North Slope.

Population trend:

Canada Geese are believed to be increasing, while White-fronted Geese are thought to be declining. Pacific Brant populations have declined in the 1990s. Population estimates are crude.

Unique or special characteristics:

This is the only place in the Yukon where Brant breed.

Habitat Features

Breeding geese are few on the coastal plain and there are few unique or special habitat characteristics, with perhaps one exception. Brant use salt marshes off the Yukon coastal plain that are subject to storm tides, predisposing them to natural declines and oil contamination.

Harvest

Inuvialuit:

Under the IFA, the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee has the authority to develop bylaws that apply to the Inuvialuit harvest of specific species, if required. NWT laws must then reflect these bylaws; bylaws may also be reflected in Ivvavik National Park regulations and Yukon wildlife regulations. There are currently no bylaws in place for any of these species.

From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. In the period from 1988 to 1997, the average annual harvest reported was 130 White-fronted Geese and 18 Canada Geese. Funding and support for the collection of harvest data is supplied through the IFA and other agencies.

Harvesting Rights
AreaInuvialuitOthers
Ivvavik National Park Exclusive None Permitted
Herschel Island Territorial Park Exclusive None Permitted
East of the Babbage River Preferential With license, bag limits, seasons
Adjoining NWT Exclusive on Inuvialuit lands and preferential on Crown lands With license, bag limits, seasons

Others:

Regulations under Yukon Wildlife Act, NWT Wildlife Act and National Parks Act apply in their respective jurisdictions. In the event of sport hunting, Migratory Birds Regulations apply.

Eco-tourism

Brant contribute to the Arctic experience sought by birders and naturalists along the Yukon North Slope.

Threats

Potential threats to nesting colonies and migrant Brant include oil spills or other marine contamination, and disturbance. Brant use salt marshes off the Yukon coastal plain that are subject to storm tides, predisposing them to natural declines and oil contamination.

Species at Risk Status

Yukon:
At Risk/May be at Risk
COSEWIC:
none
CITES:
none

Research and Monitoring

Population monitoring:

Goose populations are being monitored in a number of locations in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. There is also an ongoing program to record species observed on Herschel Island.

Research:

Population and other management research is conducted by government management agencies on the advice of WMACs and IGC. From 1988-1993, the Canadian Wildlife Service completed a study in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to determine the distribution and abundance of White-fronted Geese. Incidental observations of Canada Geese and Tundra Swans were recorded.

The Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board has funded and/or conducted a number of waterfowl studies in the Gwich’in Settlement Area, to the east and south of the Yukon North Slope. http://www.grrb.nt.ca/wildlife.htm

Deficiencies:

Estimates of population trends are crude. There is no information on breeding productivity or survivorship. There is little information on life history on the North Slope.

Management

Management is guided by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The Arctic Goose Joint Venture is a component of this plan.

Management Jurisdictions
AreaLegislationEnforcementAgreementsOccurance
Ivvavik National Park IFA, Migratory Birds Convention, Migratory Birds Regulations Parks Canada Migratory Birds Convention

North American Waterfowl Management Plan

Arctic Goose Joint Venture
Nesting, staging, migration
Hershel Island Territorial Park Yukon Wildlife Act YTG
East of the Babbage River National Parks Act YTG
Adjoining NWT NWT Wildlife Act GNWT

To meet conservation goals of the IFA, the co-management bodies are mandated to determine and recommend (to Yukon Government, GNWT and Parks Canada) a total allowable harvest and/ or promote research, if and when required. A Migratory Bird Protocol which sets out provisions for spring hunting has been agreed upon by Canada and the United States and has been ratified by Canada.

Community-based Information

In 2003, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee undertook a project to record traditional knowledge of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope. The observations, comments and concerns expressed by Aklavik residents as part of this study were as follows:

Brant (Branta bernicla)

  • These geese come over from Alaska in the spring and probably nest near the Blow River and other areas in small numbers.
  • They moult along the coast, and leave Herschel in September.
  • These dark small geese are distinctive, but are not easy to see.
  • The small numbers seem to be the same as in previous years.

Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)

  • Most people said that the numbers of yellowlegs are steady.
  • One person said there has been an increase and another said there has been a decrease.
  • Yellowlegs are still abundant and available in both the spring and fall.
  • Their fall feeding pattern is similar to Snow Geese.
  • Yellowlegs are fat in May and fatter than Snow Geese in the fall.
  • They appear to spend the summer inland in marshy areas all along the coast.
  • Yellowlegs have better eyesight than Snow Geese and are more wary.
  • Hunting is much harder now as the birds fly over higher and land farther inland.

Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html

In 2004, the Inuvialuit Cultural Resources Centre prepared a report titled “Tariurmiutuakun qanuq atuutiviksaitlu ilitchuriyaqput ingilraan Inuvialuit qulianginnin = Learning about marine resources and their use through Inuvialuit oral history”. Transcripts from two Inuvialuit oral history collections were reviewed to see what could be learned about marine resources and their use within the southeastern Beaufort Sea. The study area included the coast from the Yukon/United States border in the west to the Franklin Bay area in the east. Information was compiled on beluga and bowhead whales, some coastal birds, fish, polar bears and seals, in an effort to provide a foundation for developing future projects on Inuvialuit knowledge of marine resources. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/279627.pdf

Related Literature and Information Sources

Canadian Wildlife Service Waterfowl Committee. 2006. Population Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada: November 2006. CWS Migr. Birds Regul. Rep. No. 19.

Eckert, C.D., 2007. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

Hawkings, J. 2002. Personal communication, Canadian Wildlife Service, Whitehorse.

Hines J. and M. Wiebe Robertson. 2006. Surveys of geese and swans in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Western Canadian Arctic, 1989-2001, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa.

Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 - 1997. Inuvik, NT. http://www.fjmc.ca/publications/IHS.htm

Sinclair P.H., W.A. Nixon, C.D. Eckert and N.L. Hughes (eds). 2003. Birds of the Yukon Territory. UBC Press Vancouver. 596 pp.

Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March, 2003. Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.

Yukon Bird Club. 2000. Check list of the birds of Herschel Island. http://www.taiga.net/wmac/herschel/herschelbirds.pdf