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Washington State Status Report for the Aleutian Canada Goose (1997)

Category: Threatened and Endangered Species - Status Reports

Date Published: July 1997

Number of Pages: 27

Author(s): David Hays

The Washington, Oregon, and California population of Aleutian Canada goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia) was first added to the U.S. Department of Interior's list of native endangered species in 1967. In 1991 the species was downlisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from endangered to threatened. The primary cause of the population decline was attributed to introduced arctic and red foxes. Aleutian geese were eliminated on many islands in the Aleutian chain after arctic and red foxes were introduced. Efforts to control arctic fox populations, starting in the 1950's, have been successful in significantly reducing and eliminating foxes from several key islands.

The Aleutian Canada goose is one of 11 currently recognized subspecies of Canada Goose. It is the only known subspecies whose range once included both the North American and the Asian continents. Aleutian Canada geese can be distinguished from most other Canada geese by their small size and a complete ring of white feathers at the base of the neck in birds older than 8 months. They migrate from their breeding grounds in the Aleutian Islands in September, stopping along coastal areas of Washington and Oregon en route to their wintering grounds in California.

Hunting of Aleutian Canada geese is prohibited in Washington. Washington is a migratory, and not a wintering, habitat. Principal migratory habitat in Washington is located within the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and surrounding fields and farms.

The 1991 revised federal recovery plan for the goose outlined 3 major delisting criteria:

  1. maintain a wild population at a level of at least 7,500 animals;
  2. re-establish self-sustaining populations of geese on three former breeding areas, and
  3. maintain adequate migration and winter habitat.

Not all these criteria have been met. Substantial progress has been made, however, on all criteria. With continued success, future de-listing is likely.

In response to the federal endangered status of the Aleutian Canada goose, the Department of Fish and Wildlife listed the species as a state endangered species in 1980. The federal action downlisting the goose from endangered to threatened has not as yet resulted in a similar downlisting of populations in Washington. No significant circumstances exist specific to Washington State to deviate from following the federal lead in downlisting from endangered to threatened status. It is recommended that the Aleutian Canada goose be downlisted from endangered to threatened in Washington.

Suggested Citation:
Hays, D. 1997. Status of the Aleutian Canada Goose in Washington. Wash. Dept. Fish and Wildl., Olympia. 18 pp.