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Lesser Snow Goose

Anser Caerulescens - "Kanguq"


Population Status

Distribution:

Although Snow Geese rarely breed on the Yukon coastal plain, they do stage in significant numbers across the entire area, with some annual variation in the distribution.

Population size:

Several hundred thousand Snow Geese are believed to stage along the Yukon-Alaska coastal plain from the outer Mackenzie Delta to the Canning River, Alaska.

Population trend:

Increasing.

Unique or special characteristics:

  • There are four discrete populations of Snow Geese, one of which, the western Arctic population, stages almost entirely along the Yukon-Alaska coastal plain. The Yukon coastal plain represents a significant portion of the entire staging area.
  • This staging phenomenon is undoubtedly the most significant avifaunal feature of the Yukon North Slope during the fall.
  • Should development occur, Snow Geese are considered one of the most vulnerable bird species in the region.

Habitat Features

The entire Yukon coastal plain is used annually by staging Snow Geese that feed in lowland wet tussock tundra and sedge communities. They feed almost entirely on the lower stems and roots of cotton grass. Because much of the plant is destroyed and recovery is slow, it is speculated that Snow Geese need much more habitat than is used in any given year.

Harvest

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

Eco-tourism

Although there is a potential for eco-tourism directed at staging Snow Geese, they currently do not attract tourists, largely because the fall staging and migration occur when tourism is low because of cold and inclement weather.

Threats

An over abundance of Snow Goose could result in habitat degradation. While Snow Goose populations are currently healthy, this species is particularly vulnerable during fall staging. Disturbance associated with industrial development or other activities is potentially threatening. Threats associated with climate change are not fully understood.

Research and Monitoring

Population monitoring:

None currently anticipated.

Research:

In the 1970s, during ecological investigations in response to a proposed Arctic gas pipeline, the distribution of Snow Geese was delineated and their numbers estimated. In 1986 and 1989, The Canadian Wildlife Service investigated Snow Goose habitat use on the coastal plain.

Deficiencies

: Estimates of population trends are crude. There is little knowledge of the impacts of increases in population numbers on vegetation and other species during fall staging on the North Slope.

Management

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
Staging
Hershel Island Territorial Park Yukon Wildlife Act YTG
East of the Babbage River National Parks Act YTG
Adjoining NWT NWT Wildlife Act GNWT

Community-based Information

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 south-eastern 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.

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.

Ptarmigan - Willow (Lagopus lagopus), Rock (Lagopus mutus)

Updated January 2008

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:

  • Numbers in the delta in the winter were lower in 2002-03 than three years ago. All the ptarmigan that are seen are Willow Ptarmigan.
  • These birds are plentiful every April in willow habitats in North Slope valleys and mountain sides. These are mostly Willow Ptarmigan, but some of the smaller rock ptarmigan are seen higher up.
  • Rock Ptarmigan taste better.
  • People enjoy listening to and watching ptarmigan when these birds are courting.

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

Related Literature and Information Sources

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

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.