The AGJV supports banding operations of geese across the Arctic, from Baffin Island to Alaska. Most of these banding operations take place in late summer when geese are molting their wing feathers and cannot fly, and when young of the year have not yet fledged. From 1989–2019, more than 1 million geese from AGJV populations and species of interest were banded. AGJV banding studies, and public reporting of these bands when they are found, have provided information about timing of migration, recovery distributions, survival rates, population sizes, and harvest rates.

Scientists rely on the interest and engagement of tens of thousands of United States and Canadian citizen scientists to collect goose-related information. For example, a large volume of information is provided annually by the public through harvest questionnaire surveys, species composition surveys and band recoveries. Hunters “sample” the population of marked birds and report band recoveries and seasonal harvests of geese. Parts from harvested birds (i.e., tail fans and wing tips of harvested geese) are used for determining the species, age, and sex composition of the annual harvest.

From all this information, there is now improved knowledge of goose distribution during migration and winter, which has led to the combined management of several populations of geese from breeding areas that were formerly divided into smaller regional components, including midcontinent White-fronted Geese, midcontinent Cackling Geese, and midcontinent Lesser Snow Geese. Band recovery data from hunters have also been used to monitor changes in distribution of species like Ross’s Geese, which have greatly expanded their range eastward over the past few decades.

Capturing molting White-fronted Geese on Alaska’s North Slope for banding

Banding Baffin Island

Each year, at least 80,000 hunters respond to harvest questionnaire surveys in the United States, and another 12,000 or so in Canada. In addition, hunters report approximately 60,000 hunter-shot band recoveries from all species of migratory game birds each year.

The information collected from this massive citizen science effort is invaluable. Given the large numbers of geese in North America, their remote breeding areas in Arctic regions, and large and expanding geographic distributions of these populations, traditional monitoring techniques, such as aerial surveys, are often either logistically impractical or prohibitively expensive. Thus, the information collected from the hunters and others who recover and resight banded birds is critical to monitoring efforts aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of these species.

The Arctic Goose Joint Venture expresses sincere gratitude to all partner agencies, researchers and the thousands of citizen scientists who contribute to the knowledge base needed to manage North American geese.

Reporting Banded Birds

Did you find a banded bird? Find out how to report it!

Banding and Recovery by Species

Canada and Cackling Geese

Western Arctic Lesser Snow Geese

Ross's Geese

Midcontinent Cackling Geese

Canada Geese

Brant Geese

Cackling Geese

Snow Geese

Ross's Geese

Greater White-fronted Geese

Emperor Geese