Branta canadensis occidentalis - (S.F. Baird, 1858)
Dusky Canada Goose
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Branta canadensis occidentalis (S. F. Baird, 1858) (TSN 175006)
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.106175
Element Code: ABNJB05039
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Waterfowl
 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Anseriformes Anatidae Branta
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1957. The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, 5th ed. Port City Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD. 691 pp.
Concept Reference Code: B57AOU01HQUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Branta canadensis occidentalis
Taxonomic Comments: The subspecific status of Middleton Island Canada Geese, previously believed to be B. c. occidentalis, is in question due to recent preliminary DNA results that suggest three genetically distinct populations of Canada Geese in the north Gulf of Alaska region; i.e. the Copper River delta, Middleton Island and Prince William Sound (Scribner et al. 1997).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5T3
Global Status Last Reviewed: 06Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 03Jan2008
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: T3 - Vulnerable
Reasons: Breeding pairs on the Copper River Delta appear to have declined slightly from 1986 to 1997 (slope coefficient = 0.971, Eldridge et al. 1997). Highly variable young production--from 3.9% to 23.5% young of the year ratios-- on the Copper River Delta in July during the last 14 years (Pacific Flyway Council 1997). Primary concern is the highly restricted areas of breeding, migration stop-overs, and wintering areas across this subspecies' year round range (Pacific Flyway Council Earthquake-caused successional changes in vegetation have promoted increased access by predators and thus increased predation (Campbell 1990). Poor nesting success due to predation is a significant threat to the long-term persistence of this population (Pacific Flyway Council 1997). Loss of habitat outside of protected refuges within the wintering range and migration route is also a potential threat (Pacific Flyway Council 1997).
Nation: United States
National Status: N2B,N2N (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N2M (14Feb2012)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alaska (S3B), Oregon (S3N), Washington (SNRN)
Canada British Columbia (S2M)

Other Statuses

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: <100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding occurs on the Copper River Delta near Cordova, Alaska, including Egg Island, Castle Island, and Storey Island. Nonbreeding and molting geese occur in the Bering Glacier area (Eldridge et al. 1997). Wintering occurs primarily in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and along the Columbia River in Washington (Bartonek et al. 1971, Cornely et al. 1988).

Number of Occurrences: 1 - 5
Number of Occurrences Comments: At the landscape level, one breeding location (Copper River delta) exists in Alaska. Approximately 15 wintering locations occur in the Willamette Valley, Oregon, and in southern Washington (Pacific Flyway Council 1997).

Population Size: 10,000 - 100,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Population has fluctuated from lows during the mid-1950s (~5,000 birds) to highs during the 1970s (~20,000 to 25,000 birds) (Cornely et al. 1985, Bromley and Rothe 2003). Population estimates during the 1990s ranged from 12,000 to 14,000 individuals (Pacific Flyway Council 1997, Bromley and Rothe 2003).

Overall Threat Impact Comments: Natural successional changes in the Copper River Delta (CRD), accelerated by the uplift following the 1964 earthquake, have led to an increasing number and diversity of goose, nestling, and egg predators, including brown bears, coyotes, wolves, red fox, river otter, mink, bald eagle, gulls, and jaegers (Campbell 1990). Loss of habitat outside of refuges on wintering grounds and along migration routes is a potential threat. Particular concern is the conversion of bottomland pastures along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers to development interests, including cottonwood plantations (Pacific Flyway Council 1997). Loss of this habitat would reduce the total amount of potential wintering habitat, resulting in geese concentrating on protected lands and potentially increasing crop depredation. Political pressure for controlling increasing crop depredation, primarily due to increases of Cackling Canada Geese (B. c. minima), which winters in the same area, may weaken current stringent harvest protections. Petroleum and coal field development, as well as associated road development in the Bering Glacier area may detrimentally affect nonbreeders and molting geese, as well as some breeders in the area (Bartonek et al. 1971).

Overhunting on the winter range was a problem in the late 1970s and early 1980s but hunting is presently not limiting the population (Pacific Flyway Council 1997, Bromley and Rothe 2003). For example, restrictive harvest regulations, redirected harvest management, and required goose identification classes in Washington and Oregon reduced Dusky Geese harvest to 1% of the total Canada Goose harvest in Washington and Oregon wintering area in 1996 (Pacific Flyway Council 1997).

Short-term Trend: Unknown

Long-term Trend:  
Long-term Trend Comments: Indices derived from mid-winter inventories from 1947 to the present indicate an increasing population until the mid-1970s. Between 1975 and 1984, population declined 8.3% annually, with the majority of the decline occurring since 1979. The decline continued until 1990; since then, population estimates have fluctuated widely (Pacific Flyway Council 1997, Drut et al. 1998, Bromley and Rothe 2003).

Consistent with mid-winter population indices, breeding ground surveys on the Copper River Delta suggest a 50% linear decline from 1978 to 1990, with further decline in 1991 (Conant and Dau 1990, Butler 1991 in Bromley and Rothe 2003).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: The following research needs were highlighted in the Pacific Flyway Management Plan for the Dusky Canada Goose (1997): 1) Conduct aerial surveys on nesting grounds along standard density-stratified transects. 2) Conduct a survey of Canada Geese on Middleton Island. 3) Monitor stratified random nest plots every third year to determine trends in nest densities and nest success in relation to habitat types and predator species. 4) Compare spring aerial survey and ground nest plot data to evaluate development of a visibility correction factor for aerial breeding pair surveys. 5) Conduct annual aerial production surveys on the CRD. 6) Design and conduct a survey to estimate production of Canada Geese on Middleton Island as a component of an annual productivity index. 7) Conduct banding and marking on the CRD breeding grounds and peripheral areas to support indirect winter population estimates, distribution studies, and research objectives. 8) Continue to evaluate relationships among results of aerial and ground spring breeding bird surveys, July production surveys, and winter population indices. 9) Conduct a winter survey of Canada Geese in Prince William Sound. 10) Conduct fall distribution surveys of Canada Geese in eastern Prince William Sound and CRD to identify staging areas and assess harvest vulnerability of dark goose aggregations.

Protection Needs: Maintain appropriate regulation of harvest in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. Secure protection for Bering Glacier molting area from development impacts. Secure permanent protection for the population of breeding Canada geese on Middleton Island. Implement a conservation promotion strategy with land owners in Washington and Oregon to promote regional conservation of lands important to wintering geese, possibly through monetary or tax burden relief compensation.

Distribution
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Global Range: (<100-250 square km (less than about 40-100 square miles)) Breeding occurs on the Copper River Delta near Cordova, Alaska, including Egg Island, Castle Island, and Storey Island. Nonbreeding and molting geese occur in the Bering Glacier area (Eldridge et al. 1997). Wintering occurs primarily in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and along the Columbia River in Washington (Bartonek et al. 1971, Cornely et al. 1988).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.

Map unavailable!:
Distribution data for U.S. states and Canadian provinces is known to be incomplete or has not been reviewed for this taxon.
Endemism: Occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations, but breeds in a single state or province

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, OR, WA
Canada BC

Range Map
No map available.


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AK Valdez-Cordova (CA) (02261)
WA Clark (53011), Grays Harbor (53027), Pacific (53049)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
17 Lower Willamette (17090012)+, Upper Chehalis (17100103)+, Lower Chehalis (17100104)+, Grays Harbor (17100105)+, Willapa Bay (17100106)+
19 Lower Copper River (19020104)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A medium-large, dark race of the Canada goose.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: N
Lacustrine Habitat(s): Deep water, Shallow water
Palustrine Habitat(s): HERBACEOUS WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous
Habitat Comments: Breeds in freshwater marsh with tall shrub vegetative cover. Landscape level: herb graminoid and mixed tree/shrubs landcover classes dominated all 5 breeding-pair density strata (Crouse et al. 1996). Nest site level: Interlevee basins were the most common site used for nesting, followed by levees (Crouse et al. 1996). Low shrub cover or low height forb cover were important components of a nest site in high density nesting strata (Crouse et al. 1996).

Winters in farm fields and agricultural wetlands in Washington and Oregon (Bromley 1976, Cline and Lenhart 1985, Campbell 1990).

Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Cooperative management by the Pacific Flyway Council has resulted in adoption of a management plan addressing population trends, threats, protection, and inventory and research needs (Pacific Flyway Council 1997). Members of the council represent wildlife agencies from Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon (Pacific Flyway Council 1997). The Pacific Flyway Management Plan for Dusky Canada Geese identifies three "Action Levels", intended to maintain and enhance the number of Dusky Canada Geese on the Copper River Delta, and thus the total population. Levels are triggered by the mid-winter population annual index if the population is declining and by a 3-year average of the mid-winter population index if the population is increasing. These action levels are: 1) 8,000 total birds or above, 2) 6,500 to 8,000 birds, 3) below 6,500 birds. Specific management actions are described in the plan for each action level relating to breeding grounds, migration areas, wintering grounds, public use, crop depredation control, inventories, and research (Pacific Flyway Council 1997). If action level three is reached, the agencies included in this management plan will initiate a thorough population viability analysis, review the conservation status of Dusky Canada Geese, and reassess all feasible and pracical intensive management options (Pacific Flyway Council 1997).
Management Research Needs: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would like to develop a breeding ground population estimate that could account for renesting and a visibility correction factor to provide the best estimate of the Dusky Canada Goose population (Pacific Flyway Council 1997).
Biological Research Needs: The following research needs were highlighted in the Pacific Flyway Management Plan for the Dusky Canada Goose (1997): 1) Conduct a study of genetic relations among Dusky Canada Geese and other Canada Geese populations from Cook Inlet, Alaska, to Oregon (ongoing, see Scribner et al. 1997). 2) Study late-nesting and predation on the CRD to determine renesting frequency, agents of nest and brood losses, and brood period mortality. 3) Inititate a satellite/radio telemetry study to determine breeding distribution, fall and spring migration staging areas, and timing of migration. 4) Determine survival rates and sources of mortality for adult geese during the nesting period. 5) Determine visibility correction factors for breeding pair and production surveys using radio-marked male and female Dusky Canada Geese on the CRD. 6) Evaluate movements and brood rearing success of females nesting on Egg Island using radio telemetry. 7) Estimate numbers and productivity of Canada geese breeding in Prince William Sound including Green, Hinchinbrook, and Montague Islands. 8) Estimate nesting propensity and success of 2- vs. 3 year old females using known-aged females. 9) As an alternate to other methods, estimate recruitment on the CRD and elsewhere using DNA isolated from eggshell membranes.
Population/Occurrence Delineation Not yet assessed
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Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 03Jan2008
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Gotthardt, T., and S. L.Wilbor
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 13Sep1996

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game. 1997. Alaska 1997-98 migratory bird hunting regulations. State of Alaska, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game. Juneau, AK.

  • American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1957. The A.O.U. Check-list of North American Birds, 5th ed. Port City Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD. 691 pp.

  • Bartonek, J.C., J.G. King and H.K. Nelson. 1971. Problems confronting migratory birds in Alaska. Pp. 345-361 in: Transactions of the thirty-sixth North American wildlife and natural resources conference, March 7-10, 1971. Wildl. Manage. Inst., Washington, DC.

  • Bromley, R.G., and T.C. Rothe. 2003. Conservation assessment for the dusky Canada goose (Branta canadensis occidentalis Baird). Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-591. Portland, OR: U.S. Dep. Agric., For. Serv., Pacific Northwest Research Station. 79 pp.

  • Bromley, R.G., and T.C. Rothe. 2003. Conservation assessment for the dusky Canada goose (Branta canadensis occidentalis Baird). Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-591. Portland, OR: U.S. Dep. Agric., For. Serv., Pacific Northwest Research Station. 79pp.

  • Bromley, R.G.H. 1976. Nesting and habitat studies of the Dusky Canada Goose (Branta canadensis occidentalis Baird) on the Copper River delta, Alaska. M.S. thesis. Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK. 81 pp.

  • Campbell, B.H. 1990. Factors affecting the nesting success of Dusky Canada geese, Branta canadensis occidentalis, on the Copper River delta, Alaska. Canad. Field-Naturalist 104(4):567-574.

  • Campbell, B.H. 1990. Factors affecting the nesting success of Dusky Canada geese, Branta canadensis occidentalis, on the Copper River delta, Alaska. Canad. Field-Naturalist 104(4):567-574.

  • Campbell, R.W., N.K. Dawe, I.McT. Cowan, J.M. Cooper, G. Kaiser, and M.C.E. McNall. 1990. The Birds of British Columbia, Vol. 1. Nonpasserines: Introduction, Loons through Waterfowl. Royal B.C. Mus. in association with Environ. Can., Can. Wildl. Serv. 514pp.

  • Chapman, J.A., C.J. Henny, and H.M. Wight. 1969. The status, population dynamics, and harvest of the Dusky Canada Goose. Wildl. Monogr. 18:1-48.

  • Cline, D. and C. Lenhart. 1985. The dusky Canada goose. Pp. 433-436 in: Di Silvestro, R.L. (ed.). Audubon Wildlife Report 1985. National Audubon Society, New York, NY.

  • Conant, B. and C.P. Dau. 1990. Dusky Canada goose breeding population ssurvey [sic]. Copper River delta, Alaska. May 18, 1990. U.S. Dept. Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Anchorage, AK. 4 pp.

  • Cornely, J.E., B.H. Campbell and R.L. Jarvis. 1985. Productivity, mortality, and population status of dusky Canada geese. Trans. N. Amer. Wildl. and Natur. Resour. Conf. 50:540-548.

  • Cornely, J.E., M.B. Naughton, M.R. Hills and K.M. Raftery. 1988. Distribution of wintering dusky and cackling Canada geese in western Oregon and western Washington, 1985-1988. U.S. Dept. Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Oregon Refuges and Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, OR and WA. 20 p. + appendices.

  • Cornely, J.E., M.B. Naughton, M.R. Hills and K.M. Raftery. 1988. Distribution of wintering dusky and cackling Canada geese in western Oregon and western Washington, 1985-1988. U.S. Dept. Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Oregon Refuges and Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, OR and WA. 20 p. + appendices.

  • Crouse, J., D. Youkey, and S. Babler. 1996. Dusky Canada goose nest distribution and abundance on the Copper River Delta, Alaska. Forest Service Report, Cordova Ranger District, Chugach National Forest. 23 pp.

  • Crouse, J., D. Youkey, and S. Babler. 1996. Dusky Canada goose nest distribution and abundance on the Copper River Delta, Alaska. Forest Service Report, Cordova Ranger District, Chugach National Forest. 23 pp.

  • Drut, M.S., R.E. Trost, and M. Naughton. 1998. Estimated number of dusky Canada geese. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management, Portland, OR. Report 3 pp.

  • Drut, M.S., R.E. Trost, and M. Naughton. 1998. Estimated number of dusky Canada geese. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management, Portland, OR. Report 3 pp.

  • Eldridge, W., R. Platte, and W. Larned. 1997. Report to the Pacific Flyway Study Committee on 1986-1997 breeding ground surveys of Dusky Canada geese on the Copper River Delta. Memorandum from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management-Anchorage. 11 pp.

  • Eldridge, W., R. Platte, and W. Larned. 1997. Report to the Pacific Flyway Study Committee on 1986-1997 breeding ground surveys of Dusky Canada geese on the Copper River Delta. Memorandum from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Migratory Bird Management-Anchorage. 11 pp.

  • Hansen, H.A. 1962. Canada geese of coastal Alaska. Trans. North Am. Wildl. Conf. 27:301-319.

  • Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks. 1998. BC Hunting and Trapping Regulations Synopsis. B.C. Minist. Environ., Lands and Parks, Wildl. Branch, Victoria, BC. 88pp.

  • Pacific Flyway Council. 1997. Pacific Flyway management plan for the dusky Canada goose. Dusky Canada Goose Subcomm., Pacific Flyway Study Comm. [c/o USFWS], Portland, OR. Unpubl. Rept. I+46 p.

  • Pacific Flyway Council. 1997. Pacific Flyway management plan for the dusky Canada goose. Dusky Canada Goose Subcomm., Pacific Flyway Study Comm. [c/o USFWS], Portland, OR. Unpubl. Rept. I+46 p.

  • Scribner, K.T., J.M. Pearce, B.J. Pierson, S.L. Talbot, and D. Derksen. 1997. Molecular status of the Dusky Canada Goose-genetic assessment of a relocation effort. Paper presentation at the Seventh Alaska Bird Conference, 1-5 December 1997, Anchorage, Alaska.

  • Scribner, K.T., J.M. Pearce, B.J. Pierson, S.L. Talbot, and D. Derksen. 1997. Molecular status of the Dusky Canada Goose-genetic assessment of a relocation effort. Paper presentation at the Seventh Alaska Bird Conference, 1-5 December 1997, Anchorage, Alaska.

  • Simpson, S.G. and R.L. Jarvis. 1979. Comparative ecology of several subspecies of Canada geese during winter in western Oregon. Pp. 223-241. In: Jarvis, R.L. and J.C. Bartonek (eds.). Management and biology of pacific flyway geese: a symposium. Sponsored by the Wildlife Society, Northwest Section. Oregon State Univ. Book Stores, Corvallis, OR.

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 22 July 1996. Migratory bird hunting; proposed frameworks for early-season migratory bird hunting regulations. Federal Register

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