Back From The Brink

The Aleutian Canada Goose

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is expected to make a final decision on the delisting of the Aleutian Canada goose — currently listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act — on August 1st.

One of The First Listed Species

The Aleutian Canada goose was one of the first animal species identified as endangered and in need of protection. One of the smallest subspecies of Canada goose, it was first listed under the Endangered Species Protection Act of 1966, the predecessor to the current Endangered Species Act (ESA). Once the ESA was passed in the 1973, this subspecies of geese was immediately placed on the ESA's endangered list.

Exceeds Proposed Population Goal

The Aleutian Canada goose was at critical numbers in 1966, when it was first listed: only 800 estimated birds were thought to be left in the world. Biologists ascribe the population decline to widespread degradation on key migration and wintering habitats and the introduction of predators on island nesting sites. By 1991, the estimated worldwide population reached 6,300, prompting a revision of the listing to "threatened." Since 1991, the population has increased to an estimated 37,000 today, over four times the population goal proposed by the U. S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the federal agency in charge of listing and delisting species.

The USFWS's assistant regional director of fishers and ecological services, LaVerne Smith said, "The comeback of the Aleutian Canada goose is an incredible success story, considering the vast area that the goose uses throughout the year and the remoteness of its breeding grounds. Our international partnerships with organizations like Ducks Unlimited have been a key to the success that the Aleutian Canada goose program has had."

California's Central Valley: A Critical Wintering Area

The majority of the Aleutian Canada goose population winters in the Central Valley area of California. Sixty percent of the Pacific Flyway's migratory waterfowl winter in or migrate through the Central Valley. Says DU's Dr. Alan Wentz, group manager of conservation programs, "The Central Valley, critical to the life cycles of many waterfowl species, is in itself endangered. Wetland loss in the valley has been dramatic — with only about five percent of the original wetlands remaining today. In the past ten years, Ducks Unlimited has maximized resources in this area through a variety of initiatives aimed at reversing wetland loss as efficiently as possible."

Landowners Help Protect Wetlands In Perpetuity

DU's Valley Bay CARE — Conservation of Agriculture, Resoures and Environment — brings conservation and private landowners together in California's Central Valley. Efforts are also made to expand traditional restoration projects on public lands. Says DU's Fritz Reid, director of conservation planning for DU's Western Regional Office, "DU's Valley Bay CARE initiative played an important role on the principal goose wintering site. Partnering with the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge of the USFWS and the Lyons family, we were able to restore Miller and Page lakes, where up to 100% of the Aleutian population spends part of the winter. Protecting key wintering habitat is crucial in the long-term recovery strategy."

Courtesy of Ducks Unlimited

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