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Local Ecological Knowledge of Staging Areas for Geese in the Western Canadian Arctic

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Blake Bartzen

Prairie and Northern Region

Canadian Wildlife Service
Technical Report Series Number 529

This report may be cited as follows:
Bartzen, B. 2014. Local Ecological Knowledge of Staging Areas for Geese in the Western Canadian Arctic. Technical Report Series No. 529, Canadian Wildlife Service, Yellowknife, NT.


Geese are an important subsistence food source for Aboriginal people of the Western Canadian Arctic. As harvesters of geese, Aboriginal people have knowledge of distribution and abundance of geese, timing of migration, and changes in conditions over time. In the autumn and early winter of 2008, 50 people from the communities of Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Inuvik, Old Crow and Tuktoyaktuk in the Western Canadian Arctic were interviewed for information on locations of major staging areas of geese in the region. Participants answered questionnaires and sketched general travel routes and locations where geese were observed. Information from the questionnaires was then summarized, and map information was digitized for geographic information system purposes. There were 55 unique observations of major staging areas of geese throughout the region, and most observations were of Snow Geese (Chen caerulescens), followed by Greater White-fronted Geese (Anser albifrons), and then Canada/Cackling Geese (Branta canadensis, Branta hutchinsii). In addition, most observations were from spring. Participants noted changes in abundance and timing of migration of geese, but responses were inconsistent as to how the changes were occurring (i.e., more or less, earlier or later). Some participants noted seeing birds that were new to them such as Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) and Osprey (Pandion haliaetus), “blue” phase Snow Geese, Black-billed Magpies (Pica husonia), woodpeckers, and several different small passerine species. This information will be used to help with management and conservation of geese in the Western Canadian Arctic.


Jessica Beaubier and Sarah McKenzie coordinated the project and organized the interview logistics with the participating communities. Myra Robertson from Canadian Wildlife Service reviewed a draft of this report and suggested many improvements that were incorporated. We thank the 50 interviewees whose knowledge and experience on the land made this study possible. We also thank the five interviewers, who persevered to complete the interviews within a timely fashion. We appreciated the help of the Hunters and Trappers Committees and Renewable Resource Councils of Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Inuvik, Old Crow and Tuktoyaktuk for their participation and facilitation during this study. Funding for this project was provided by the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada.

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