Considerable thanks is owed to Mike A. Johnson, Biologist (retired), North Dakota Game and Fish Department, for gathering the information in this timeline. It was created based on his 2013 presentation “Significant milestones in understanding and managing superabundant midcontinent light geese”.
Light Goose Timeline
Midcontinent Lesser Snow Goose Management Guidelines in Central Flyway
In 2018, the Central Flyway Council prepared and approved the Management Guidelines for Midcontinent Lesser Snow Geese in the Central Flyway. This plan uses Lincoln estimates as the primary monitoring/management index. The most recent goose management plans can be accessed through the AGJV website at: https://www.agjv.ca/related-links/
Midcontinent Lesser Snow Goose Management Plan in Mississippi Flyway
In 2018, the Mississippi Flyway Council prepared and approved the Management Plan for Midcontinent Lesser Snow Geese in the Mississippi Flyway. This plan uses Lincoln estimates as the primary monitoring/management index. The most recent goose management plans can be accessed through the AGJV website at: https://www.agjv.ca/related-links/
USFWS Response to Pacific Flyway Inquiry for Conservation Order Regulations
In 2018, the USFWS responded to the Pacific Flyway’s 2016 inquiry about pursuing conservation order regulations. The Service supported increasing bag limits within the regular season and use of other current management tools to reduce damage concerns and provided some suggestions regarding data synthesis and acquisition and possible paths forward for modifying regulations under the NEPA process.
Special Measures Implemented in Yukon
In Canada, special measures were implemented in the Yukon Territory in 2016.
Pacific Flyway Inquiry for Conservation Order Regulations
In 2016, the Pacific Flyway Council sent a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting the Service begin work to revise the existing National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documents for light goose management to allow for a conservation order for light geese within the Pacific Flyway. Abundances of Western Arctic and Wrangel Island Populations of lesser snow geese and Ross’s geese were well above management objectives, and studies indicated very high growth rates of snow geese in northern Alaska (>20%/year), on Wrangel Island, (>10%/year), and within the western Canadian Arctic, principally on Banks Island (>5%/year).
Special Measures Implemented in Northwest Territories and Alberta
In Canada, special measures were implemented in the Northwest Territories and Alberta in 2015.
AGJV Structured Decision Making Workshop
In January 2014, the AGJV held a Structured Decision Making Workshop to address the question: Should the AGJV Management Board recommend direct control measures of midcontinent light goose populations to the federal agencies to mitigate negative effects of Arctic Goose numbers on Arctic and subarctic habitats? The outcome from this workshop was to remain with the status quo, with several recommendations for additional work to be undertaken.
Western Arctic Lesser Snow Geese Management Plan
Special Measures Implemented in Ontario
In Canada, special measures were implemented in southeastern Ontario in 2012.
Correspondence following Evaluation of Special Measures publication
In follow-up to the distribution of the Evaluation of Special Management Measures for Midcontinent Lesser Snow geese and Ross’s geese publication, several letters of correspondence ensued among the Arctic Goose Joint Venture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the Central Flyway Council, and the Mississippi Flyway Council regarding the most appropriate path forward for continued management of light geese. This led to a special Structured Decision Making Workshop led by the AGJV in 2014.
Following the 2009 publication, “Filling a Void: Abundance Estimation of North American Populations of Arctic Geese Using Hunter Recoveries”, Lincoln estimates of total population size, which are derived from harvest and band-recovery data, start becoming more commonly used as a method to monitor and assess Arctic goose populations. For midcontinent snow geese and Ross’s geese, Lincoln estimates are substantially larger than counts from midwinter or photo-inventory surveys, sparking discussions among managers about the true size of these populations.
Final Environmental Impact Statement on Light Goose Management
In 2007, the U.S. Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) was published in 2007 and established criteria for implementing light goose Conservation Order regulations within the U.S. states of the four Flyways. To date, current Federal regulations allow for Conservation order regulations in the Atlantic, Mississippi, and Central Flyways.
Wrangel Island Lesser Snow Geese Management Plan
Special Measures implemented in Saskatchewan and Nunavut
In Canada, special measures were implemented in Saskatchewan and Nunavut in 2001.
The Arctic Tundra Emergency Conservation Act
November 1999 – The Arctic Tundra Emergency Conservation Act was passed by Congress and signed by the U.S. President to allow the Conservation Order to proceed in the U.S. until the EIS was completed. “To assure the long-term conservation of mid-continent light geese and the biological diversity of the ecosystem upon which many North American migratory birds depend, by directing the Secretary of the Interior to implement rules to reduce the overabundant population of mid-continent light geese.”
Special Measures implemented in Quebec and Manitoba
In Canada, special measures were first implemented in Quebec and Manitoba in 1999.
Canada Special Measures
In 1999, special measures were implemented in Canada, which allowed for harvest of light geese outside of the hunting season dates established in the Migratory Birds Convention Act of 1916. The Animal Alliance of Canada filed a lawsuit in Canada. The special measures were upheld but the court ruled that the evidence for overabundance had not included Ross’s geese, so that species was initially excluded from the regulations.
United States Conservation Order Regulations
In 1999, Conservation Order Regulations were implemented in the U.S. These new regulations allowed for harvest of light geese outside of the hunting season dates established in the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1916. The Humane Society of the United States filed for an injunction in federal court to stop the Conservation Order. The CO was not stopped for that season but was withdrawn for future years until the Environmental Impact Statement could be completed.
Science needs for management of overabundant snow geese
A Stakeholders Working Group
February 1998 – A Stakeholders Working Group established by AFWA to conduct an independent review of the Arctic Ecosystems in Peril, produced a report that supported the findings in the “Perils” report. The 12 member stakeholders group included the Inuvialuit Game Council, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Humane Society of the United States. The report contained a section with the dissenting view of the HSUS.
Light goose workshops and symposia
Light goose workshops and symposia were held in several areas to relay information and gather feedback in 1997
Light Goose Communications Strategy
In 1997, effective communications was identified as mandatory to the successful implementation of any light goose management actions. DJCase and Associates was contracted to develop a strategy to educate and inform government decision makers, the media, and the public on this complex issue. As part of the communications strategy, three tours of the La Perouse Bay snow goose colony were organized and attended by U.S. and Canada national conservation leaders and members of the press.
Arctic Ecosystems in Peril
January 1997 – Arctic Ecosystems in Peril: Report of the Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group, was published by the AGJV. The report included a description of the population and habitat problems and issues, analysis of population dynamics, review of potential management strategies, discussion of evaluations, and recommendations for action.
The Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group
February 1996 – The Arctic Goose Habitat Working Group was established under the AGJV and was comprised of 17 members from the U.S. and Canada representing federal, state, NGO, and universities. Dr. Bruce Batt was selected as Chair.
December 1995 – The United States and Canada signed the Amending Protocol to the Convention for the Protection of Migratory Birds in the United States and Canada. The Amending Protocol allowed the taking of birds for management purposes without day and date restrictions. The Amending instructions were exchanged in October 1999. The U.S. Senate ratified the agreement in October of 1997. It came into force in Canada in October, 1999.
Light Goose Workshop
October 1995 – The AGJV facilitated a “Light Goose Workshop” at Oak Hammock Marsh, MB . 50 representatives of the U.S. FWS, CWS, flyways, universities, NGOs and other interests participated. From that meeting there was agreement to establish a working group of experts to address the light goose issue.
Support for the establishment of an independent international committee
March 1995 – The Central Flyway Council, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA) Executive Council and Migratory Wildlife Committee all pass and forward recommendations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service to “establish an independent international committee comprised of appropriate experts to explore and recommend management actions.”
Goose Management Roundtable
January 1995 – During the 8th North American Arctic Goose Conference, the first organized discussion of the light goose overabundance issue was held at a Goose Management Roundtable. February 1995 – In follow up to the Goose Management Roundtable an open letter was sent to the Canadian Wildlife Service which cited the NAAG discussions, explained the problem and called for action, including the suggestion to amend the Migratory Bird Convention. The letter was widely circulated to the NA waterfowl community.
Wrangel Island Lesser Snow Geese Management Plan
In 1992, the Pacific Flyway Council prepared and approved the Management Plan for the Wrangel Island Population of Lesser Snow Geese. The most recent goose management plans can be accessed through the AGJV website at: https://www.agjv.ca/related-links/
Western Arctic Lesser Snow Geese Management Plan
First Midcontinent Snow Goose Management Plan
In 1982, the Mississippi and Central Flyways produced and approved the first Midcontinent Snow Goose Management Plan “…snow geese may have exceeded the carrying capacity in some colonies along the west coast of Hudson Bay…” The most recent goose management plans can be accessed through the AGJV website at: https://www.agjv.ca/related-links/
Over-exploitation of vegetation
Over-exploitation of vegetation by light geese first noted at La Perouse Bay in 1979
First Banks Island photo survey
The first photo-survey on Banks Island was conducted in 1976.
Breeding colony at Howe Island, Alaska
In north Alaska, a small snow goose breeding colony was discovered in 1971 at Howe Island; breeding snow geese on Alaska’s Arctic Coastal Plain numbered 20,000-30,000 in the late 2010s.
National Harvest Survey (NHS)
National Harvest Survey (NHS) is initiated in Canada in 1967.
Midcontinent Light Goose Harvest
Comprehensive Federal harvest surveys begin in the 1960s, which have provided valuable data for understanding the effects of hunting regulations on light goose harvests, patterns and changes in hunters and harvest distribution, and population dynamics of light geese. Federal harvest surveys consist of Diary/Questionnaire Surveys to estimate total goose harvest and Parts/Species Collection Surveys to estimate species- and age-specific harvests. This figure shows midcontinent light goose harvest in the U.S. and Canada during the regular waterfowl season and under special/Conservation Order regulations.
McConnell River Project
Charles MacInnes established a research study at McConnell River, Northwest Territories (now Nunavut) in 1958 on small Canada geese and expanded it to a snow goose study in 1964 which ran continuously until 1975. The project produced seminal work on the ecology of both species, and for snow geese these include the energetics of breeding, feeding ecology, family and social behaviour, and interchange of individuals among colonies.
First snow goose nesting documented
First snow goose nesting documented at La Perouse Bay, east of Churchill, Manitoba in 1953.
Snow Goose Breeding Biology
In 1952, Graham Cooch established the first modern studies of the breeding biology of snow geese. He conducted ground studies on the west coast of Hudson Bay, Southampton Island, and Baffin Island. He pioneered the study of almost every aspect of their biology, including color morphs, genetics, pairing and reproductive behaviour, annual variation and habitats. He conducted the first quantitative surveys of lesser snow goose population size in the eastern arctic and he adapted Inuit techniques for summer harvest of flightless geese to the purpose of mass banding for studies of migration and winter distribution.
Snow Goose Colony Discovered
A small colony of nesting snow geese at Cape Henrietta Maria was reported by Robert Smith in 1944 and photographed by Harold Hanson in 1947. Smith also reported nesting on Akimiski Island, in southern James Bay, at the same time. The Cape Henrietta Maria colony is the largest aggregation of snow geese in southern Hudson Bay and the Akimiski colony is the southernmost snow goose colony in the world.
Snow Goose colony discovered
Snow Goose colony discovered at McConnell River, west coast of Hudson Bay by Angus Gavin in 1941.
First Nesting Ross’s Geese Colony Discovered
On 30 June 1938 Angus Gavin (1947) recorded the first nesting colony of 100 Ross’s Geese at a small lake (now called Discovery Lake, at 67˚ 33′ N, 101˚ 49′ O) 14 miles southeast of the Perry River estuary.
Blue Goose nesting grounds
Blue Goose nesting grounds at Bowman Bay, Baffin Island discovered by Dewey Soper in 1929 – 6 year, 30,000 mile expedition
Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA)
Migratory Birds Convention Act (MBCA) is passed into law in Canada to implement the Migratory Birds Convention in 1917.