Common Eider
Rock Ptarmigan

Waterfowl and Upland Game Birds

 Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)
Newly Updated 2008
 
Population Status
Distribution: In the Yukon, Black Guillemots are found only on Herschel Island where they breed at Pauline Cove. The nearest large colony is located on Cooper Island near Barrow, Alaska.
 
Population size: The 2007 Herschel Island population was around 44 adults and 16 chicks.
 
Population trend: The Black Guillemot population at Herschel Island and Cooper Island have experienced downward trends since the mid 1990’s. While the nesting population varies from year to year, the overall trend shows a decline. Recent counts at Herschel Island are as follows: 2005 – 60 adults and 22 chicks; 2006 – 40 adults and 13 chicks; 2007 – 44 adults and 16 chicks.
 
Unique or special characteristics:
·        Herschel Island is the only nesting site for Black Guillemots in the Yukon, and only one of a few in the western Arctic.
 
Habitat Features
On Herschel Island, Black Guillemots nest in artificial nesting structures on the roof and inside ceiling of the old Anglican mission building, or as it is now called, Mission House. Guillemots have also been known to nest under piles of debris or driftwood adjacent to Mission House, but this is no longer seen on Herschel Island due to nest predation by foxes. At Herschel Island, Black Guillemots are known to eat Short-horned Sculpin, Slender Eelblenny, Arctic Cod, Capelin, and Arctic Lamprey.
 
Harvest
N/A
 
Eco-tourism
Travelers visiting Herschel Island, either on their own or stopping by on one of the two cruise ships that visit the island each summer, can get a tour of the Pauline Cove area which includes a walk around Mission House. Visitors learn about the ecology of the Black Guillemots as well as the ongoing research and monitoring of this species. The house has a roped barrier around it to ensure tourists do not disturb the birds in their nest boxes.
 
Threats
Black Guillemots nesting at Point Barrow are influenced by near-shore sea ice conditions. If the sea ice moves out away from shore early in the summer season, there is reduced availability of Arctic Cod, the guillemot’s preferred prey, and results in a decline in their nesting success. Researchers point out that this relationship between sea ice and nesting productivity illustrates a link between climate change and long-term nesting productivity. The Herschel Island population is also vulnerable to the potential impacts of oil and gas development with its associated infrastructure, as well as shipping, with their potential for spills and other contamination.
 
Species at Risk Status
Yukon: May be at risk
COSEWIC: none
CITES: none
 
Research and Monitoring
Population monitoring: The Herschel Island population has been monitored for population and nesting since 1984. This monitoring includes a total population count of adults, counts of active nests, and a record of the success of each nest. Concern for the population arose after poor productivity in 2003 (2 chicks) and 2004 (no chicks). A program has recently been initiated to colour-band all chicks, as well as some adults. Chicks are banded with an aluminium band and a unique combination of three coloured bands so that each chick is identifiable. Adults are also banded in this way. This provides information on yearly survival and dispersal and enhances our understanding of population fluctuations. (for more information see http://www.wmacns.ca/current/projects/3/)
 
Research: Researchers have been investigating numerous aspects involving the Black Guillemot, including surveying other parts of Herschel Island for nests, investigating the prey species consumed, tracking changes in population through annual total population counts of adults, and monitoring annual nesting success through nest checks during July and August. Chicks and adults are uniquely banded, weighed, and wing length is measured. Researchers also work with rangers to refine protocols for population counts and nest checks.
 
Deficiencies: A better understanding of the dispersal of Black Guillemots in the Beaufort Sea region is needed. As well, researchers are trying to better understand the food requirements of nesting guillemots, and determine what factors affect food availability and breeding success.
 
Management
Nesting boxes are protected and maintained annually by researchers and Herschel Island Park Rangers.
 
Community-based Information
Community members within the Inuvialuit Settlement Region watch for Black Guillemots and report any unusual sightings.
 
Related Literature and Information Sources
Eckert, C.D., 2007. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.
 
Eckert, C. D., Cooley, D., and Gordon, R.R. 2005, Monitoring Black Guillemot population and nesting success at Herschel Island, YT, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.
 
Sinclair P.H., W.A. Nixon, C.D. Eckert and N.L. Hughes (eds). 2003. Birds of the Yukon Territory. UBC Press Vancouver. 596 pp.

Lesser Snow Goose (Anser caerulescens) - Kanguq
Updated January 2008
 
Population Status
Distribution: Although Snow Geese rarely breed on the Yukon coastal plain, they do stage in significant numbers across the entire area, with some annual variation in the distribution.
Population size:Several hundred thousand Snow Geese are believed to stage along the Yukon-Alaska coastal plain from the outer Mackenzie Delta to the Canning River, Alaska.
Population trend: Increasing.
Unique or special characteristics:
  • There are four discrete populations of Snow Geese, one of which, the western Arctic population, stages almost entirely along the Yukon-Alaska coastal plain. The Yukon coastal plain represents a significant portion of the entire staging area.
  • This staging phenomenon is undoubtedly the most significant avifaunal feature of the Yukon North Slope during the fall.
  • Should development occur, Snow Geese are considered one of the most vulnerable bird species in the region.
 
Habitat Features
The entire Yukon coastal plain is used annually by staging Snow Geese that feed in lowland wet tussock tundra and sedge communities. They feed almost entirely on the lower stems and roots of cotton grass. Because much of the plant is destroyed and recovery is slow, it is speculated that Snow Geese need much more habitat than is used in any given year.
 
Harvest
 

Inuvialuit harvesting rights to snow geese
Ivvavik National Park
exclusive
Herschel Island Territorial Park
exclusive
East of the Babbage River
preferential
Adjoining NWT
exclusive on Inuvialuit lands and preferential on Crown lands

 
Inuvialuit: Under the IFA, the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee has the authority to develop bylaws that apply to the Inuvialuit harvest of specific species, should such bylaws be needed. NWT regulations must then reflect these bylaws. Bylaws may also be reflected in Ivvavik National Park regulations and Yukon wildlife regulations. There are currently no harvest restrictions on Snow Geese for Inuvialuit.
 
From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. In the period from 1988 to 1997, the average annual harvest reported was about 150 Snow Geese. Funding and support for the collection of harvest data is supplied through the IFA and other agencies.
 
Others: Regulations under the Yukon Wildlife Act, NWT Wildlife Act and National Parks Act apply in their respective jurisdictions.
 

Other resident harvesting
Ivvavik National Park
none
Herschel Island Territorial Park
none
East of the Babbage River
with license, bag limits, seasons
Adjoining NWT
with license, bag limits, seasons

 
Eco-tourism
Although there is a potential for eco-tourism directed at staging Snow Geese, they currently do not attract tourists, largely because the fall staging and migration occur when tourism is low because of cold and inclement weather.
 
Threats
An over abundance of Snow Goose could result in habitat degradation. While Snow Goose populations are currently healthy, this species is particularly vulnerable during fall staging. Disturbance associated with industrial development or other activities is potentially threatening. Threats associated with climate change are not fully understood.
 
Research and Monitoring
Population monitoring: None currently anticipated.
 
Research: In the 1970s, during ecological investigations in response to a proposed Arctic gas pipeline, the distribution of Snow Geese was delineated and their numbers estimated. In 1986 and 1989, The Canadian Wildlife Service investigated Snow Goose habitat use on the coastal plain.
 
Deficiencies: Estimates of population trends are crude. There is little knowledge of the impacts of increases in population numbers on vegetation and other species during fall staging on the North Slope.
 
Management
 

Occurrence in jurisdictional areas
Ivvavik National Park
staging
Herschel Island Territorial Park
staging
East of the Babbage River
staging
Adjoining NWT
staging
International agreements/ management plans
Migratory Birds Convention
North American Waterfowl Management Plan
Arctic Goose Joint Venture
Applicable legislation
IFA
Migratory Birds Convention, Migratory Birds Regulations
Lead enforcement agencies
Ivvavik National Park
Parks Canada
Herschel Island Territorial Park
YTG
East of the Babbage River
YTG
Adjoining NWT
GNWT

 
Community-based Information
Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html
 
In 2004, the Inuvialuit Cultural Resources Centre prepared a report titled “Tariurmiutuakun qanuq atuutiviksaitlu ilitchuriyaqput ingilraan Inuvialuit qulianginnin = Learning about marine resources and their use through Inuvialuit oral history”. Transcripts from two Inuvialuit oral history collections were reviewed to see what could be learned about marine resources and their use within the south-eastern Beaufort Sea. The study area included the coast from the Yukon/United States border in the west to the Franklin Bay area in the east. Information was compiled on beluga and bowhead whales, some coastal birds, fish, polar bears and seals, in an effort to provide a foundation for developing future projects on Inuvialuit knowledge of marine resources. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/279627.pdf
 
Related Literature and Information Sources
Canadian Wildlife Service Waterfowl Committee. 2006. Population Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada: November 2006. CWS Migr. Birds Regul. Rep. No. 19.
 
Eckert, C.D., 2007. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.
 
Hawkings, J. 2002. Personal communication, Canadian Wildlife Service, Whitehorse.
 
Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 – 1997. Inuvik, NT. http://www.fjmc.ca/publications/IHS.htm
 
Sinclair P.H., W.A. Nixon, C.D. Eckert and N.L. Hughes (eds). 2003. Birds of the Yukon Territory. UBC Press Vancouver. 596 pp.
Ptarmigan  - Willow (Lagopus lagopus), Rock (Lagopus mutus)
Updated January 2008
 
Community-based Information
In 2003, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee undertook a project to record traditional knowledge of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope. The observations, comments and concerns expressed by Aklavik residents as part of this study were as follows:
·        Numbers in the delta in the winter were lower in 2002-03 than three years ago. All the ptarmigan that are seen are Willow Ptarmigan.
·        These birds are plentiful every April in willow habitats in North Slope valleys and mountain sides. These are mostly Willow Ptarmigan, but some of the smaller rock ptarmigan are seen higher up.
·        Rock Ptarmigan taste better.
·        People enjoy listening to and watching ptarmigan when these birds are courting.
 
Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html
 
Related Literature and Information Sources
Eckert, C.D., 2007. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.
 
Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March, 2003. Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.
 


Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) - Uluagullik
Updated January 2008
Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) - Nirliq
Updated January 2008
Brant (Branta bernicla) - Niglignaq
Updated January 2008
 
Population Status
Distribution:
Migration: Brant and White-fronted geese are common migrants across the Yukon coastal plain, while Canada Geese are uncommon during migration.
 
Breeding/nesting: All three species breed along the Yukon coastal plain in small numbers. Brant are slightly more common but also more localized than the other two species. There are four known Brant breeding colonies, with fewer than 200 breeders. White-fronted and Canada geese are solitary, dispersed nesters and more difficult to locate and count. Both species are uncommon breeders along the coastal plain.
 
Fall staging: Besides the local breeding populations, only White-fronted Geese stage along the Yukon coastal plain. As many as 18,000 White-fronts have been observed in the Babbage River delta. Brant use the outer marine deltas in large numbers at times during migration.
 
Population size:Population size is difficult to define and measure. Up to 40,000 White-fronted Geese migrate across the Yukon coastal plain and at least 25,000 Brant migrate along the coast. Probably fewer than 200 geese breed, and probably fewer than 20,000 stage on the Yukon North Slope.
 
Population trend:Canada Geese are believed to be increasing, while White-fronted Geese are thought to be declining. Pacific Brant populations have declined in the 1990s. Population estimates are crude.
 
Unique or special characteristics:
  • This is the only place in the Yukon where Brant breed.
 
Habitat Features
Breeding geese are few on the coastal plain and there are few unique or special habitat characteristics, with perhaps one exception. Brant use salt marshes off the Yukon coastal plain that are subject to storm tides, predisposing them to natural declines and oil contamination.
 
Harvest
Inuvialuit: Under the IFA, the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee has the authority to develop bylaws that apply to the Inuvialuit harvest of specific species, if required. NWT laws must then reflect these bylaws; bylaws may also be reflected in Ivvavik National Park regulations and Yukon wildlife regulations. There are currently no bylaws in place for any of these species.
 
From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. In the period from 1988 to 1997, the average annual harvest reported was 130 White-fronted Geese and 18 Canada Geese. Funding and support for the collection of harvest data is supplied through the IFA and other agencies.
 

Inuvialuit harvesting rights to geese
Ivvavik National Park
exclusive
Herschel Island Territorial Park
exclusive
East of the Babbage River
preferential
Adjoining NWT
exclusive on Inuvialuit lands and preferential on Crown lands

 
Others: Regulations under Yukon Wildlife Act, NWT Wildlife Act and National Parks Act apply in their respective jurisdictions. In the event of sport hunting, Migratory Birds Regulations apply.
 

Other resident harvesting
Ivvavik National Park
none
Herschel Island Territorial Park
none
East of the Babbage River
with license, bag limits, season
Adjoining NWT
with license, bag limits, season

 
Eco-tourism
Brant contribute to the Arctic experience sought by birders and naturalists along the Yukon North Slope.
 
Threats
Potential threats to nesting colonies and migrant Brant include oil spills or other marine contamination, and disturbance. Brant use salt marshes off the Yukon coastal plain that are subject to storm tides, predisposing them to natural declines and oil contamination.
 
Species at Risk Status
Yukon: At Risk/May be At Risk
COSEWIC: none
CITES: none
 
Research and Monitoring
Population monitoring: Goose populations are being monitored in a number of locations in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region. There is also an ongoing program to record species observed on Herschel Island.
Research: Population and other management research is conducted by government management agencies on the advice of WMACs and IGC. From 1988-1993, the Canadian Wildlife Service completed a study in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region to determine the distribution and abundance of White-fronted Geese. Incidental observations of Canada Geese and Tundra Swans were recorded.
The Gwich’in Renewable Resource Board has funded and/or conducted a number of waterfowl studies in the Gwich’in Settlement Area, to the east and south of the Yukon North Slope. http://www.grrb.nt.ca/wildlife.htm
Deficiencies:Estimates of population trends are crude. There is no information on breeding productivity or survivorship. There is little information on life history on the North Slope.
 
Management
Management is guided by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan. The Arctic Goose Joint Venture is a component of this plan.
 

Occurrence in jurisdictional areas
Ivvavik National Park
nesting, staging, migration
Herschel Island Territorial Park
migration
East of the Babbage River
nesting, staging, migration
Adjoining NWT
nesting, staging, migration
International agreements/ management plans
Migratory Birds Convention
North American Waterfowl Management Plan
Arctic Goose Joint Venture
Applicable legislation
IFA
Migratory Birds Convention, Migratory Birds Regulations
National Parks Act
Lead enforcement agencies
Ivvavik National Park
Parks Canada
Herschel Island Territorial Park
YTG
East of the Babbage River
YTG
Adjoining NWT
GNWT

 
To meet conservation goals of the IFA, the co-management bodies are mandated to determine and recommend (to Yukon Government, GNWT and Parks Canada) a total allowable harvest and/ or promote research, if and when required. A Migratory Bird Protocol which sets out provisions for spring hunting has been agreed upon by Canada and the United States and has been ratified by Canada.
 
Community-based Information
In 2003, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee undertook a project to record traditional knowledge of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope. The observations, comments and concerns expressed by Aklavik residents as part of this study were as follows:
 
Brant (Branta bernicla)
·        These geese come over from Alaska in the spring and probably nest near the Blow River and other areas in small numbers.
·        They moult along the coast, and leave Herschel in September.
·        These dark small geese are distinctive, but are not easy to see.
·        The small numbers seem to be the same as in previous years.
 
Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
·        Most people said that the numbers of yellowlegs are steady.
·        One person said there has been an increase and another said there has been a decrease.
·        Yellowlegs are still abundant and available in both the spring and fall.
·        Their fall feeding pattern is similar to Snow Geese.
·        Yellowlegs are fat in May and fatter than Snow Geese in the fall.
·        They appear to spend the summer inland in marshy areas all along the coast.
·        Yellowlegs have better eyesight than Snow Geese and are more wary.
·        Hunting is much harder now as the birds fly over higher and land farther inland.
 
Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html
In 2004, the Inuvialuit Cultural Resources Centre prepared a report titled “Tariurmiutuakun qanuq atuutiviksaitlu ilitchuriyaqput ingilraan Inuvialuit qulianginnin = Learning about marine resources and their use through Inuvialuit oral history”. Transcripts from two Inuvialuit oral history collections were reviewed to see what could be learned about marine resources and their use within the southeastern Beaufort Sea. The study area included the coast from the Yukon/United States border in the west to the Franklin Bay area in the east. Information was compiled on beluga and bowhead whales, some coastal birds, fish, polar bears and seals, in an effort to provide a foundation for developing future projects on Inuvialuit knowledge of marine resources. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/279627.pdf
 
Related Literature and Information Sources
Canadian Wildlife Service Waterfowl Committee. 2006. Population Status of Migratory Game Birds in Canada: November 2006. CWS Migr. Birds Regul. Rep. No. 19.
 
Eckert, C.D., 2007. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.
 
Hawkings, J. 2002. Personal communication, Canadian Wildlife Service, Whitehorse.
 
Hines J. and M. Wiebe Robertson. 2006. Surveys of geese and swans in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, Western Canadian Arctic, 1989-2001, Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, Ottawa.
 
Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 – 1997. Inuvik, NT. http://www.fjmc.ca/publications/IHS.htm
 
Sinclair P.H., W.A. Nixon, C.D. Eckert and N.L. Hughes (eds). 2003. Birds of the Yukon Territory. UBC Press Vancouver. 596 pp.
 
Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March, 2003. Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.
Yukon Bird Club. 2000. Check list of the birds of Herschel Island. http://www.taiga.net/wmac/herschel/herschelbirds.pdf
 
 


Ducks
Updated January 2008
 
Population Status
Distribution:
Migration: The common migrant ducks include Long-tailed Duck, Northern Pintail, Common Eider, White-winged and Surf scoters. Most of the migration is latitudinal (ie. moving east or west) along the coastal plain.
 
Breeding/nesting: Common nesters include Long-tailed Duck, Northern Pintail, Greater and Lesser scaup. Most of the nesting occurs in and near tundra ponds and in major river deltas. The relative importance of areas to different species is known.
 
Moulting: Moulting occurs along the entire coastal plain, but the largest concentrations of moulting ducks occur in the sheltered waters of Workboat Passage. Smaller concentrations are found in Phillips Bay, and between Kay Point and Shingle Point. Moulting is also likely to occur in fresh-water habitats on the coastal plain, although the significance of these areas is unknown.
 
Population size: Very roughly, between 11,000 and 24,000 ducks are thought to nest on the Yukon North Slope.
Population trend:Local trends (North Slope specific) are unknown.
Unique or special characteristics:
  • In the Yukon, the North Slope is the most common nesting area for nesting Long-tailed Ducks. Here, they are a characteristic tundra species and contribute significantly to the Arctic experience of naturalists and wilderness enthusiasts.
 
Habitat Features
Probably the most significant habitat feature of ducks on the Yukon North Slope is the protected marine environments, particularly in Workboat Passage and Phillips Bay, where concentrations of moulting ducks occur. Breeding, nesting and moulting habitat are well known for most species.
 
Harvest
Inuvialuit: Ducks represent a significant part of the Inuvialuit subsistence harvest. Much of the harvest takes place in the Mackenzie Delta during the spring. From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. Funding and support for the collection of harvest data is supplied through the IFA and other agencies.
 

Inuvialuit harvesting rights to ducks
Ivvavik National Park
exclusive
Herschel Island Territorial Park
exclusive
East of the Babbage River
preferential
Adjoining NWT
exclusive on Inuvialuit lands and preferential on Crown lands

 
Others: Regulations under Yukon Wildlife Act, NWT Wildlife Act and National Parks Act apply in their respective jurisdictions. Sport hunting of ducks is basically non-existent due to the relative remoteness of the Yukon North Slope. Were there sport hunters, the Migratory Birds Regulations would apply.

Other resident harvesting
Ivvavik National Park
none
Herschel Island Territorial Park
none
East of the Babbage River
with licence, bag limits, seasons
Adjoining NWT
with licence, bag limits, seasons

 
Eco-tourism
The stunningly beautiful and highly vocal Long-tailed Ducks and Common Eiders are exclusive to tundra biomes during the summer and are therefore commonly associated with Arctic wilderness. As such they hold special appeal to birders and naturalists.
 
Threats
The biggest threat to ducks on the Yukon North Slope is an oil spill or other marine contamination. Northern harvest currently poses minor risk to ducks although hunters should avoid concentrations of flightless moulting ducks. Industrial development may impact limited breeding areas, although this risk is currently not apparent. The threats associated with climate change are unknown.
 
Research and Monitoring
Population monitoring: There is an ongoing program to record species observed on Herschel Island.
Research: No research is currently planned.
Deficiencies:One management deficiency is the imprecise monitoring of specific duck populations. Very little information exists on waterfowl productivity, survivorship, and mortality rates on the Yukon North Slope. Breeding population estimates (proportion breeding) are inaccurate.
 
Management
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan guides the goals and objectives of waterfowl management.

Occurrence in jurisdictional areas
Ivvavik National Park
nesting, moulting, migration
Herschel Island Territorial Park
nesting, moulting, migration
East of the Babbage River
nesting, moulting, migration
Adjoining NWT
nesting, moulting, migration
International agreements/ management plans
Migratory Birds Convention
North American Waterfowl Management Plan
Applicable legislation
IFA
Migratory Birds Convention, Migratory Birds Regulations
Lead enforcement agencies
Ivvavik National Park
Parks Canada
Herschel Island Territorial Park
YTG
East of the Babbage River
YTG
Adjoining NWT
GNWT

 
A Migratory Bird Protocol which sets out provisions for spring hunting has been agreed upon by Canada and the United States and has been ratified by Canada.
 
Community-based Information
In 2003, the Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee undertook a project to record traditional knowledge of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope. The observations, comments and concerns expressed by Aklavik residents as part of this study were as follows:
 
Common eider (Somateria mollissima)
·        People only spoke of the female Common Eiders that they see nesting and, after mid-July, see on the near shore with their little ones.
·        Most of the nesting on Herschel Island is in the grass and sticks on the gravel. Common Eiders probably nest close to the buildings to get away from the foxes.
·        A few other nests are seen in other locations along the coast, mainly on spits and islands such as Shingle Point and Escape Reef (Seagull Island).
·        Predation by gulls and ravens is a worry, and by foxes, particularly on Herschel.
·        Unusual ice build-up and ocean currents alter the size and location of spits.
·        Unusual summer storms can raise ocean levels and flood nests on low islands.
·        Rangers on Herschel warn visitors not to frighten females off nests, as gulls and ravens may get the eggs.
 
Long-tailed Duck (Clugula hyemalis)
·        Individuals who spend time near Herschel in July and to the west see these ducks in groups of 50, often with scoters, floating in the ocean. Numbers seem stable.
·        People living in July near Shingle Point see fewer on the ocean there than long ago.
·        There are general concerns about lesser numbers of many waterbird species in the Shingle area.
 
White-winged and Surf scoter (Melanitta fusca, Melanitta perspicatta)
·        Scoters, known locally as “black ducks”, remain as abundant as ever as they pass through the delta on their way north. They moult in the thousands offshore, and pass through the delta on their way south.
·        Most people harvest larger pie ducks.
·        Large moulting groups are most often seen to the west, off Herschel. One person said most of these were males.
·        No one knew where these birds nest.
 
Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html
In 2004, the Inuvialuit Cultural Resources Centre prepared a report titled “Tariurmiutuakun qanuq atuutiviksaitlu ilitchuriyaqput ingilraan Inuvialuit qulianginnin = Learning about marine resources and their use through Inuvialuit oral history”. Transcripts from two Inuvialuit oral history collections were reviewed to see what could be learned about marine resources and their use within the southeastern Beaufort Sea. The study area included the coast from the Yukon/United States border in the west to the Franklin Bay area in the east. Information was compiled on beluga and bowhead whales, some coastal birds, fish, polar bears and seals, in an effort to provide a foundation for developing future projects on Inuvialuit knowledge of marine resources. http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Library/279627.pdf
 
Related Literature and Information Sources
Conant, B., and Groves, D.J. 2002. Alaska-Yukon waterfowl breeding population survey, May 17 to June 9, 2002 / Juneau, Alaska : U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
Eckert, C.D., 2007. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

Hawkings, J. 2002. Personal Communication, Canadian Wildlife Service, Whitehorse.
 
Hines, J., B. Fournier and J. O’Neill. 2004. Spring and fall distribution of waterfowl and other aquatic birds on the mainland of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, western Canadian Arctic, 1990-98. Canadian Wildlife Service, Technical report series - no.426.
 
Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 – 1997. Inuvik, NT. http://www.fjmc.ca/publications/IHS.htm
 
Sinclair P.H., W.A. Nixon, C.D. Eckert and N.L. Hughes (eds). 2003. Birds of the Yukon Territory. UBC Press Vancouver. 596 pp.
 
Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope) and the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee. 2003. Aklavik Inuvialuit describe the status of certain birds and animals on the Yukon North Slope, March, 2003. Final Report. Wildlife Management Advisory Council (North Slope), Whitehorse, Yukon.
 
Yukon Bird Club. 2000. Check list of the birds of Herschel Island. http://www.taiga.net/wmac/herschel/herschelbirds.pdf
 


Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus) eastern population - Qugruk

Updated January 2008

 
Population Status
Distribution:
Breeding/nesting: Tundra Swans breed at low densities throughout the coastal plain. They are restricted largely to within 10 km of the coast and are most common in the major river deltas.
 
Moulting: Moulting occurs within the vicinity of their nesting grounds. Significant concentrations occur in the Babbage River Delta and Tent Island. Smaller concentrations are found on the Firth and Malcolm river deltas and at Clarence Lagoon.
 
Population size:Based on winter counts, the entire eastern population of Tundra Swans is roughly estimated to be 80,000. Densities of nesting swans are low on the coastal plain, at roughly 0.1-0.2/km2 in the lowlands and at 0.1-0.2/km2 in the upland coastal plain. The most current census (1990) revealed a density of 0.26 swans/km2 on the lowlands of the Yukon coastal plain. A rough estimate of the numbers of Tundra Swans on the Yukon North Slope is between 600 and 1000. There is a concentration of swans during the moulting period, particularly in Moose Channel in the Mackenzie Delta and in the Babbage River delta, including Phillips Bay where numbers have been known to increase five-fold at this time. The highest concentration of moulting swans occurs on Tent Island, in the Babbage River delta, and in Phillips Bay. In Phillips Bay, as many as 129 swans have been observed at one time.
 
Population trend:
The entire population is believed to be increasing. However, based on summer transects in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, the population of swans in the region declined from 1989 to 1990.
 
Habitat Features
The major river deltas and the islands within the deltas on the Yukon North Slope represent key habitat for Tundra Swans, particularly during the late summer when swans are moulting.
 
Harvest
Inuvialuit: Under the IFA, the Aklavik Hunters and Trappers Committee has the authority to develop bylaws that apply to the Inuvialuit harvest of specific species, should such bylaws be needed. NWT regulations must then reflect these bylaws. Bylaws may also be reflected in Ivvavik National Park regulations and Yukon wildlife regulations. There are currently no Aklavik HTC bylaws in place for Tundra Swan.
 
From 1988 to 1999 Inuvialuit harvest data was collected through the Inuvialuit Harvest Study. In the period from 1988 to 1997, the average annual harvest reported by Aklavik residents was 14. Funding and support for the collection of harvest data is supplied through the IFA and other agencies.
 

Inuvialuit harvesting rights to Tundra Swans
Ivvavik National Park
exclusive
Herschel Island Territorial Park
exclusive
East of the Babbage River
preferential
Adjoining NWT
exclusive on Inuvialuit lands and preferential on Crown lands

 
Others: A Migratory Bird Protocol, which sets out provisions for spring hunting, has been agreed upon by Canada and the United States and has been ratified by Canada. Migratory Birds Regulations prohibit the harvest of swans in Canada by sport hunters.
 

Other resident harvesting
Ivvavik National Park
none
Herschel Island Territorial Park
none
East of the Babbage River
none
Adjoining NWT
none

 
Eco-tourism
Tundra Swans are highly visible and, to many people, a symbol of wilderness. They are a valuable component of any wilderness experience on the North Slope.
 
Threats
Increased hydrocarbon activity on the Yukon North Slope has the potential to threaten swan populations. A more immediate threat is the continual reduction of wintering habitat along the US east coast. The effects of climate change are unknown.
 
Species at Risk Status
Yukon: none
COSEWIC: none
CITES: none
 
Research and Monitoring
Population monitoring: There is an ongoing program to record species observed on Herschel Island.
 
Research: Tundra Swan breeding densities were derived incidental to a Canadian Wildlife Service study of white-fronted geese from 1988-1993.
 
From 2001 to 2003, a study was undertaken to monitor the numbers and productivity of tundra swans in relation to potential natural gas development in the Mackenzie River Delta (Swystun, H., J. Hines, and R. Dawson, 2005).
 
Deficiencies:Unknown
 
Management
The North American Waterfowl Management Plan guides management of Tundra Swans.
 

Occurrence in jurisdictional areas
Ivvavik National Park
nesting, moulting
Herschel Island Territorial Park
incidental
East of the Babbage River
nesting, moulting
Adjoining NWT
nesting, moulting
International agreements/ management plans
Migratory Birds Convention
North American Waterfowl Management Plan
Applicable legislation
IFA
Migratory Birds Convention, Migratory Birds Regulations
National Parks Act
Lead enforcement agencies
Ivvavik National Park
Parks Canada
Herschel Island Territorial Park
YTG
East of the Babbage River
YTG
Adjoining NWT
GNWT

 
To meet conservation goals of the IFA, the co-management bodies are mandated to determine and recommend (to the governments of Yukon and the NWT, the Canadian Wildlife Service and Parks Canada) a total allowable harvest and/ or promote research, if and when required.
 
Community-based Information
Community-based information on this species may also be found in the reports of the annual community-based monitoring program conducted in Aklavik and neighbouring communities by the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op. http://www.taiga.net/coop/community/index.html
 
Related Literature and Information Sources
 
Eckert, C.D., 2007. Personal communication, Government of Yukon, Department of Environment.

Hawkings, J. 2002. Personal Communication, Canadian Wildlife Service, Whitehorse.
 
Jingfors, K. 1989. Wildlife of Northern Yukon National Park, Chapter 9 in: Northern Yukon National Park resource description and analysis. Natural Resource Conservation Section, Canadian Parks Service, Prairie and Northern Region, Winnipeg.
 
Joint Secretariat, 2003. Inuvialuit Harvest Study, Data and Methods Report 1988 – 1997. Inuvik, NT. http://www.fjmc.ca/publications/IHS.htm
 
Sinclair P.H., W.A. Nixon, C.D. Eckert and N.L. Hughes (eds). 2003. Birds of the Yukon Territory. UBC Press Vancouver. 596 pp.
 
Swystun, H. A., J. E. Hines, and R. D. Dawson. 2005. Monitoring the numbers and productivity of Tundra Swans in relation to potential natural gas development in the Mackenzie River Delta, Western Canadian Arctic, 2001-2003. Technical Report Series No. 438 Canadian Wildlife Service, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
 
Yukon Bird Club. 2000. Check list of the birds of Herschel Island. http://www.taiga.net/wmac/herschel/herschelbirds.pdf