Management of Pacific Flyway Canada geese (Branta canadensis) requires information on winter distribution of different populations. Recoveries of tarsus bands from Vancouver Canada geese (B. canadensis fulva) marked in southeast Alaska, USA, ≥4 decades ago suggested that ≥83% of the population was non-migratory and that annual adult survival was high (Ŝ = 0.836). However, recovery distribution of tarsus bands was potentially biased due to geographic differences in harvest intensity in the Pacific Flyway. Also, winter distribution of Vancouver Canada geese could have shifted since the 1960s, as has occurred for some other populations of Canada geese. Because winter distribution and annual survival of this population had not recently been evaluated, we surgically implanted very high frequency radiotransmitters in 166 adult female Canada geese in southeast Alaska. We captured Vancouver Canada geese during molt at 2 sites where adults with goslings were present (breeding areas) and 2 sites where we observed nonbreeding birds only. During winter radiotracking flights in southeast Alaska, we detected 98% of 85 females marked at breeding areas and 83% of 70 females marked at nonbreeding sites, excluding 11 females that died prior to the onset of winter radiotracking. We detected no radiomarked females in coastal British Columbia, or western Washington and Oregon, USA. Most (70%) females moved ≤30 km between November and March. Our model-averaged estimate of annual survival (Ŝ = 0.844, SE = 0.050) was similar to the estimate of annual survival of geese marked from 1956 to 1960. Likely <2% of Vancouver Canada geese that nest in southeast Alaska migrate to winter areas in Oregon or Washington where they could intermix with Canada geese from other populations in the Pacific Flyway. Because annual survival of adult Vancouver Canada geese was high and showed evidence of long-term consistency, managers should examine how reproductive success and recruitment may affect the population.
Additional publication details
Winter distribution, movements, and annual survival of radiomarked Vancouver Canada geese in southeast Alaska