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Emperor Goose Chen canagica

This attractive goose is suspected to have suffered a moderately rapid decline, and it is thought to still be at risk owing to subsistence hunting and oil pollution. It is consequently classified as Near Threatened. Worryingly, it is expected to undergo a moderate population reduction in the near future owing to climate change.

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.

Anser canagica Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993), Anser canagica BirdLife International (2000), Anser canagica canagica BirdLife International (2000), Anser canagica canagica Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

Distribution and population
Chen canagica is restricted to the Bering Sea, breeding in Arctic and subarctic Alaska, USA and extreme north-east coastal Russia, and wintering principally along ice-free coasts of the Aleutian Islands and, in smaller numbers, in Canada and the Alaska Peninsula, with very few reaching as far south as California (Petersen et al. 1994, Delany and Scott 2002). Its population in Alaska declined precipitously from 139,000 in 1964 to 42,000 in 1986, but was recently estimated at c.84,500 in 2002 (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 2001).

Population justification
The global population is estimated to number > c.85,000 individuals (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2001), while the population in Russia has been estimated at c.100-10,000 breeding pairs (Brazil 2009).

Trend justification
The population trend is unclear, with increasing trends in North America as measured using data from the Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count (Butcher and Niven 2007), but a moderately rapid decline is suspected to have occurred overall, with at least a moderate decline expected in the future as a result of climate change.

It breeds in coastal saltmarshes and winters along ice-free coasts.

Factors affecting its population fluctuations are poorly understood, but subsistence hunting in Alaska and coastal oil pollution are considered to be contributory. Climate change and associated habitat shifts are expected to impact negatively on this species and others dependent on tundra habitat for breeding. Modelling indicates that 54% of the habitat for this species could be lost by 2070 (Zöckler and Lysenko 2000).

Conservation Actions Underway
No targeted conservation actions are known for this species, although some of its habitat is protected. Conservation Actions Proposed
Regularly monitor the population at selected sites. Assess the effects of hunting on population levels. Tackle the causes of projected climate change through international agreements. Enforce regulations to prevent oil pollution. Consider legal protection against hunting. Study interactions with other goose species, and how these relate to the availability of food plants (Lake et al. 2008).

Brazil, M. 2009. Birds of East Asia: eastern China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, eastern Russia. Christopher Helm, London.

Lake, B. C.; Schmutz, J. A.; Lindberg, M. S.; Ely, C. R.; Eldridge, W. D.; Broerman, F. J. 2008. Body mass of prefledging Emperor Geese Chen canagica: large-scale effects of interspecific densities and food availability. Ibis 150(3): 527-540.

Petersen, M. R.; Schmutz, J. A.; Rockwell, R. F. 1994. Emperor Goose(Chen canagica). In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 97, pp. 1-20. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and The American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 2001. Waterfowl population status 2001.

US Fish & Wildlife Service. 2001. 2001 national and state economic impacts of wildlife watching: addendum to the 2001 national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation.

Wetlands International. 2002. Waterbird population estimates. Wetlands International, Wageningen, Netherlands.

Zöckler, C.; Lysenko, I. 2000. Water birds on the edge. First circumpolar assessment of climate change impact on Arctic breeding water birds. WCMC, Cambridge, UK.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Mahood, S., Pilgrim, J., Taylor, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Chen canagica. Downloaded from on 16/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 16/04/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Emperor goose (Chen canagica) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Anatidae (Ducks, geese and swans)
Species name author (Sevastianov, 1802)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 42,100 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species