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Datasheet

Branta canadensis (Canada goose)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 22 November 2017
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Host Animal
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Branta canadensis
  • Preferred Common Name
  • Canada goose
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Chordata
  •       Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •         Class: Aves
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • B. canadensis is a large goose species that has been widely introduced as an ornamental species and for hunting purposes. It has established very large and rapidly expanding self-sustaining populations in many pa...

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Pictures

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PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Canada goose - adult on water. South Derbyshire.  20th July 2006.
TitleAdult
CaptionCanada goose - adult on water. South Derbyshire. 20th July 2006.
CopyrightColin Ryall
Canada goose - adult on water. South Derbyshire.  20th July 2006.
AdultCanada goose - adult on water. South Derbyshire. 20th July 2006.Colin Ryall
Canada goose - adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire.  20th July 2006.
TitleAdults
CaptionCanada goose - adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire. 20th July 2006.
CopyrightColin Ryall
Canada goose - adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire.  20th July 2006.
AdultsCanada goose - adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire. 20th July 2006.Colin Ryall
Canada goose - adults on water. South Derbyshire.
TitleAdults
CaptionCanada goose - adults on water. South Derbyshire.
CopyrightColin Ryall
Canada goose - adults on water. South Derbyshire.
AdultsCanada goose - adults on water. South Derbyshire.Colin Ryall
Canada goose - group of adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire.  20th July 2006.
TitleAdults
CaptionCanada goose - group of adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire. 20th July 2006.
CopyrightColin Ryall
Canada goose - group of adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire.  20th July 2006.
AdultsCanada goose - group of adults resting on gravel leisure area. South Derbyshire. 20th July 2006.Colin Ryall
Group of adults feeding on a green lesiure area in Pirbright, Surrey, UK.
TitleAdults feeding
CaptionGroup of adults feeding on a green lesiure area in Pirbright, Surrey, UK.
CopyrightColin Ryall
Group of adults feeding on a green lesiure area in Pirbright, Surrey, UK.
Adults feedingGroup of adults feeding on a green lesiure area in Pirbright, Surrey, UK.Colin Ryall

Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • Branta canadensis (Linnaeus, 1758)

Preferred Common Name

  • Canada goose

Other Scientific Names

  • Anas canadensis Linnaeus, 1758

International Common Names

  • English: greater Canada goose

Local Common Names

  • Czech Republic: berneska velka
  • Denmark: canadagas
  • Estonia: kanada lagle
  • Finland: kanadanhanhi
  • France: bernache du Canada
  • Germany: Kanadagans
  • Hungary: kanadai lud
  • Iceland: kanadagaes
  • Ireland: ge cheanadach
  • Italy: oca del Canada
  • Latvia: kanada zoss
  • Lithuania: kanadine bernikle
  • Netherlands: canadese gans
  • Norway: kanadagas
  • Poland: bernikla kanadyjska
  • Portugal: ganso do Canada
  • Russian Federation: kanadskaja kazarka
  • Spain: barnacla canadiense
  • Sweden: kanadagas

Summary of Invasiveness

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B. canadensis is a large goose species that has been widely introduced as an ornamental species and for hunting purposes. It has established very large and rapidly expanding self-sustaining populations in many parts of Europe and is also well established in New Zealand. It forms large gatherings that have little fear of man and cause nuisance and health hazards on amenity grasslands and economic damage on farmland. It has been involved in a number of air strikes. It is aggressive towards native wildfowl and may compete with them for resources (Watola et al., 1996). Hybrids have been recorded with a range of native and non-native wildfowl (Appleton, 2010).

Taxonomic Tree

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  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Chordata
  •             Subphylum: Vertebrata
  •                 Class: Aves
  •                     Order: Anseriformes
  •                         Family: Anatidae
  •                             Genus: Branta
  •                                 Species: Branta canadensis

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

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The taxonomy of the Canada goose is highly complex. As many as five species and 186 subspecies have been claimed (Hanson, 1997). Around a dozen races are widely recognised but several of these intergrade and, perhaps before the natural geographical variation of this species has been fully understood, the pattern is being eroded by natural range expansions and by translocation within the natural range (Kear, 2005). A decision has been taken recently by the American and British authorities to divide the known races between two species – Branta canadensis and the cackling goose Branta hutchinsii – but further taxonomic refinements may follow from ongoing research (Banks et al., 2004; Sangster et al., 2005). Introduced populations of B. canadensis have often had multiple origins and represent an amalgam of several races, sometimes including races now assigned to B. hutchinsii. The split is observed here. As far as possible, this account refers to canadensis only, although much of the literature from which it is drawn treats canadensis and hutchinsii together under canadensis.

Description

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B. canadensis in its non-native range is a large goose with a dark brown body, black head and neck and white cheeks. Its honking call is very loud and easily recognised. Within the natural range, some races are no larger than the snow goose Anser caerulescens (Chen caerulescens) and there is considerable variation in plumage tones. For more details, see for example Kear (2005).

Distribution

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There is no systematic information on where B. canadensis is held in captivity. Partly in consequence, information is also likely to be poor on where isolated escapes or releases have occurred. Gabuzov (1990) describes plans at that time for releases for hunting near the Russian Caspian Sea and further east in Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, but it is not known whether such releases were ever made.

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

JapanPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
Korea, DPRPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
Korea, Republic ofPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
Russian Federation
-Russia (Asia)Present, few occurrencesBirdLife International, 2009Found as a vagrant in Central Asian and Asian parts of Russia

North America

BermudaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
CanadaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-AlbertaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-British ColumbiaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-ManitobaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-New BrunswickWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-Newfoundland and LabradorWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-Northwest TerritoriesWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-Nova ScotiaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-NunavutWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-OntarioWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-Prince Edward IslandWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-QuebecWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-SaskatchewanWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-Yukon TerritoryWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
GreenlandLocalisedNativeFox et al., 1996Breeds in west Greenland
MexicoLocalisedNativeMowbray et al., 2002
Saint Pierre and MiquelonPresentNativeMowbray et al., 2002
USAWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-AlabamaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-AlaskaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-ArizonaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-ArkansasWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-CaliforniaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-ColoradoWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-ConnecticutWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-DelawareWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-FloridaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-GeorgiaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-HawaiiPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Mowbray et al., 2002Also a failed introduction attempt
-IdahoWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-IllinoisWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-IndianaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-IowaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-KansasWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-KentuckyWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-LouisianaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-MaineWidespreadNative
-MarylandWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-MassachusettsWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-MichiganWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-MinnesotaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-MississippiWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-MissouriWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-MontanaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-NebraskaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-NevadaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-New HampshireWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-New JerseyWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-New MexicoWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-New YorkWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-North CarolinaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-North DakotaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-OhioWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-OklahomaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-OregonWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-PennsylvaniaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-Rhode IslandWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-South CarolinaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-South DakotaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-TennesseeWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-TexasWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-UtahWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-VermontWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-VirginiaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-WashingtonWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-West VirginiaWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-WisconsinWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002
-WyomingWidespreadNativeMowbray et al., 2002

Central America and Caribbean

BahamasPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Raffaele et al., 2003
Cayman IslandsPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Raffaele et al., 2003
CubaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Mowbray et al., 2002
Dominican RepublicPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Keith et al., 2003
JamaicaPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Raffaele et al., 2003
Puerto RicoPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive Raffaele et al., 2003
Turks and Caicos IslandsPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009

Europe

AustriaLocalisedIntroduced1979Banks et al., 2008Circa 5 breeding pairs
BelgiumWidespreadIntroduced1970sBlair et al., 2000Breeds
BulgariaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
Czech RepublicPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Blair et al., 2000
DenmarkLocalisedIntroduced1930sLever, 2005Breeds
EstoniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Blair et al., 2000
Faroe IslandsPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Austin et al., 2002UK ring recoveries
FinlandWidespreadIntroduced1960sBlair et al., 2000Breeds
FranceLocalisedIntroduced1990sBlair et al., 2000
GermanyWidespreadIntroduced1884Bauer and Woog, 200825000-35000 individuals in winter
IcelandPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009Some introduced birds may also occur
IrelandLocalisedIntroduced1800sBlair et al., 2000Vagrants from native populations also occur
ItalyLocalisedIntroduced1969Banks et al., 20081-2 breeding pairs
LatviaLocalisedIntroducedBlair et al., 2000Breeds
LiechtensteinPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
LithuaniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
LuxembourgPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced2000 Not invasive Banks et al., 2008
NetherlandsWidespreadIntroduced1951Voslamber et al., 2007Breeds
NorwayWidespreadIntroduced1936Blair et al., 2000Breeds
PolandLocalisedIntroduced2004Banks et al., 2004Circa 3 breeding pairs
PortugalPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
Russian FederationLocalisedIntroducedMedvedev, 1992Breeds
-Northern RussiaLocalisedIntroducedMedvedev, 1992Breeds
-Southern RussiaLocalisedIntroduced1990sLever, 2005Sea of Azov
-Western SiberiaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Austin et al., 2002UK ring recovery from River Ob
SlovakiaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
SloveniaPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
SpainPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Banks et al., 2008
Svalbard and Jan MayenPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive NOBANIS, 2008
SwedenWidespreadIntroduced1929Fabricius, 1983Breeds
SwitzerlandPresent, few occurrencesIntroduced Not invasive Cramp and Simmons, 1977
UKWidespreadIntroduced@1650 Invasive Blair et al., 2000Vagrants from native populations also occur
-Channel IslandsPresentIntroducedLack, 1986
UkraineLocalisedIntroducedBlair et al., 2000Ascania-Nova

Oceania

AustraliaAbsent, formerly presentIntroduced1912-1920 Not invasive Long, 1981
-Western AustraliaAbsent, formerly presentIntroduced1912-1920 Not invasive Long, 1981
KiribatiPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
Marshall IslandsPresent, few occurrencesNative Not invasive BirdLife International, 2009
New ZealandLocalisedIntroduced1876BirdLife International, 2009Breeds

History of Introduction and Spread

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The first introductions were to parklands in England from about 1665 and to New Zealand from about 1876. During the twentieth century there were multiple, poorly documented new releases and translocations to many parts of Europe, accompanied by natural range expansion as the new populations continued to grow.

Whereas early introductions were for ornamental or sentimental reasons, those during the twentieth century were mainly for hunting purposes. At a country level within Europe, pathways were a combination of importation from neighbouring countries, local unintentional escapes from zoos and collections, and natural dispersal across national borders. Translocations within the native range in Canada and the USA have resulted in a massive expansion of urbanised, mainly resident populations and have been largely responsible for a fourfold increase in population in North America between 1970 and 2008 (Dolbeer and Seubert, 2009).

Vagrant individuals from North America occur regularly in Iceland, as do birds originating from elsewhere in Europe. Occasional individuals from North America also occur in the UK and Ireland but the status of these birds is not fully understood. In these countries, therefore, B. canadensis could be considered to be both native and introduced.

Introductions

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Introduced toIntroduced fromYearReasonIntroduced byEstablished in wild throughReferencesNotes
Natural reproductionContinuous restocking
Austria 1979 Yes Banks et al., 2008
Belgium 1970s Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) Yes Blair et al., 2000
Canada 1931 Stocking (pathway cause) Yes Long, 1981
Central Russia   Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes NOBANIS, 2008 Lake Ladoga, Kaliningrad, etc.
Czech Republic   No Blair et al., 2000 Only 5 records by 2000
Denmark Mid 1930s Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes Banks et al., 2008
Estonia 1968 No Banks et al., 2008
Faroe Islands 1984 Self-propelled (pathway cause) No NOBANIS, 2008 Vagrants from UK
Finland Sweden 1964 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes Blair et al., 2000
France 1600s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Long, 1981
Germany early 1900s Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes Blair et al., 2000
Hawaii   Biological control (pathway cause) No Long, 1981
Ireland UK   Yes Banks et al., 2008
Italy 1969 Yes Banks et al., 2008
Latvia 1982 Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) No Banks et al., 2008
Lithuania   No NOBANIS, 2008 Unintentional
Luxembourg 2000 No Banks et al., 2008
Netherlands 1951 Yes Blair et al., 2000
New Zealand 1876 Acclimatization societies (pathway cause) Yes Lever, 2005
Norway 1936 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes Blair et al., 2000
Poland before 1935 Escape from confinement or garden escape (pathway cause) No Banks et al., 2008 Zoo escapes
Russian Federation   Yes Medvedev, 1992
Southern Russia 1980s Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) Yes Lever, 2005 Krasnodar Krai
Spain   No Banks et al., 2008
Sweden USA 1929 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) ,
Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)
Yes Fabricius, 1983
Sweden Netherlands 1929 Hunting, angling, sport or racing (pathway cause) ,
Ornamental purposes (pathway cause)
Yes Fabricius, 1983
Switzerland 1989 Yes Banks et al., 2008
UK 1600s Ornamental purposes (pathway cause) Yes Lever, 2005
Ukraine   No Banks et al., 2008
USA 1927 Stocking (pathway cause) Yes Mowbray et al., 2002
Western Australia 1912-1920 No Long, 1981
Western Siberia   Self-propelled (pathway cause) No Austin et al., 2002 Vagrant from UK

Risk of Introduction

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The introductions that have been made so far have shown the high potential of B. canadensis to establish invasive naturalised populations. There is a severe risk that, if any new releases are made in eastern Europe and western Asia, these could pose new and severe threats to globally important wetlands in those areas such as Lake Issyk-Kul, and to endangered species such as the red-breasted goose B. ruficollis.

Habitat

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B. canadensis requires a refuge on open water and suitable grazing on grassland or tilled land. It is adaptable enough to occur anywhere these basic requirements are met, but usually avoids salt or brackish water.

Habitat List

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CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Freshwater
Irrigation channels Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Lakes Principal habitat Natural
Ponds Secondary/tolerated habitat Natural
Reservoirs Principal habitat Natural
Rivers / streams Principal habitat Natural
Terrestrial-managed
Cultivated / agricultural land Principal habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Managed grasslands (grazing systems) Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Urban / peri-urban areas Secondary/tolerated habitat Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial-natural
semi-natural/Cold lands / tundra Principal habitat Natural
semi-natural/Natural grasslands Principal habitat Natural
semi-natural/Riverbanks Principal habitat Natural
semi-natural/Wetlands Principal habitat Natural

Biology and Ecology

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Genetics

The wide variability in size and plumage within this species is likely to have some genetic basis as well as environmental causes, but it is insufficient to prevent the remixing of the races where they are brought into contact by translocations and introductions.
 
Reproductive Biology
 
B. canadensis become sexually mature after two years but usually begin breeding at three or four years of age. They form monogamous pairs that may remain together for many years (Cramp and Simmons, 1977). A clutch of typically 4–7 eggs is laid in a scrape on the ground, filled with grass, moss or twigs and lined with soft feathers and down. Nests are typically close to water and often on islands or raised ground that affords a good lookout for potential predators. Both sexes defend the nest vigorously. Once the eggs hatch the female leads the chicks quickly to water where they often form crèches with other broods. The young are defended by large groups of adults including breeding and non-breeding birds. For further details, see for example Cramp and Simmons (1977).
 
Physiology and Phenology
 
B. canadensis has a fairly synchronous breeding season, with eggs laid in the northern hemisphere mainly between mid March and mid May. Adults undergo a complete moult during late summer, during which flight may become impaired, and both adults and young are fit to undertake migration or dispersal by autumn.
 
Nutrition
 
Canada geese feed largely by grazing on grassland and crops. Their food is almost exclusively plant matter including roots, rhizomes, tubers, stems, leaves, fruits and seeds (Cramp and Simmons, 1977).

 

Climate

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ClimateStatusDescriptionRemark
BS - Steppe climate Tolerated > 430mm and < 860mm annual precipitation
BW - Desert climate Tolerated < 430mm annual precipitation
Cf - Warm temperate climate, wet all year Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, wet all year
Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer Preferred Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers
Ds - Continental climate with dry summer Preferred Continental climate with dry summer (Warm average temp. > 10°C, coldest month < 0°C, dry summers)
ET - Tundra climate Preferred Tundra climate (Average temp. of warmest month < 10°C and > 0°C)

Latitude/Altitude Ranges

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Latitude North (°N)Latitude South (°S)Altitude Lower (m)Altitude Upper (m)
24-68 35-46

Means of Movement and Dispersal

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In the native range, some northern-breeding adults move northward after breeding to traditional moulting grounds (Kear, 2005). From the cold zones of the native breeding range there is a complete autumn departure for wintering grounds in more temperate regions of North America. Translocation within North America has disrupted migratory patterns and has created large and growing urban populations that are resident year-round. Introduced populations in Europe and New Zealand have shown little tendency to migrate, although in the UK a northward moult migration of some birds from England to northern Scotland has been described, and the German population is considerably swollen in winter by migrants from Scandinavia. Ringing has shown a considerable potential for individual dispersal within Europe, perhaps as birds join migrating groups of other geese. Ring recoveries link Britain with the USA, the Faroe Islands, Norway, Sweden, and the River Ob in Western Siberia.

Accidental Introduction

Accidental introduction of B. canadensis will have occurred wherever the species is kept in captivity, as occasional individuals have escaped from wildfowl collections, or as young hatched within the collection but left unpinioned have dispersed away.
 
Intentional Introduction
 
The major sources of non-native Canada goose populations have been intentional introductions as an ornamental species for parkland lakes or as intended quarry for shooting. The rapid growth of the population in parts of western Europe has made further introductions unnecessary and undesirable, and it is likely that intentional introductions to countries such as the UK have ceased.

Impact Summary

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CategoryImpact
Cultural/amenity Positive and negative
Economic/livelihood Negative
Environment (generally) Negative
Human health Negative

Impact

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Flocks of B. canadensis may damage plants by overgrazing or trampling. They can cause economic as well as physical damage to crop plants such as young cereals, and can severely damage natural vegetation along shorelines and in shallow water by heavy grazing (NOBANIS, 2008).

Economic Impact

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B. canadensis, with a body mass of around 4.2 kg, are a high risk to aircraft and one which is increasing rapidly alongside the growth in their population, their increasing adaptation to urbanised sites such as the vicinity of airports and the trend towards quieter aircraft engines (Dolbeer, 2009; Dolbeer and Seubert, 2009). The insurance industry places the annual cost of air strikes in North America at US $4.5 billion (NOBANIS, 2008). The cost of economic damage to farmland crops through grazing and trampling is rarely quantified, but in Germany it has been estimated at DM 1–3 million (Gebhardt, 1996). Canada geese can also damage riverbanks by creating pathways that speed erosion.

Environmental Impact

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Impact on Habitat

B. canadensis
resting and roosting on open water put a heavy nutrient and bacterial load into lakes and small ponds through the deposition of droppings. This may lead to eutrophication of still waters (Watola et al., 1996).

Impact on Biodiversity

Introduced B. canadensis can be aggressive towards other wildfowl and may sometimes exclude them from feeding or breeding opportunities (Andersson et al., 1999). There are close similarities in genetic make-up between Branta and Anser geese and other wildfowl, and B. canadensis has hybridised with a wide range of other species in captive situations. Although they may hybridise less frequently in the wild state, hybrids are commonly seen, especially with wild-type or domestic-type greylags Anser anser.

Social Impact

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Loss of human life through air strikes has a stark and fundamental social impact that puts B. canadensis into a class almost of its own among bird species. B. canadensis can produce up to 0.7 kg of faecal matter per day, which may be deposited in urban parks, lakes used for swimming, or drinking-water reservoirs, thus causing unpleasant fouling and potential hazards to public health; pathogens such as Escherichia coli and Cryptosporidium parvum have been identified in B. canadensis droppings (NOBANIS, 2008). The species is susceptible to highly pathogenic avian influenza (Pasick et al., 2007). Dead specimens in northern Europe have tested positive for avian influenza and could be considered relevant to the spread of forms of this disease that can infect humans.

Risk and Impact Factors

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Uses

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Economic Value

B. canadensis
is hunted widely in North America and in Sweden and some other parts of Europe, thereby providing some economic and/or social benefits. It is not legal quarry in the Netherlands or Belgium.

Uses List

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Environmental

  • Amenity

General

  • Sport (hunting, shooting, fishing, racing)

Human food and beverage

  • Meat/fat/offal/blood/bone (whole, cut, fresh, frozen, canned, cured, processed or smoked)
  • Oil/fat

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

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Distinguishing B. canadensis from the cackling goose B. hutchinsii and potential hybrids with that species is complex and difficult, given the wide range of variation in the size and plumage tones of both species (Wilson, 2003; Sibley, 2004).

Prevention and Control

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Prevention

SPS measures

Most European countries and North American states and provinces have laws intended to control trade in non-native species and the circumstances in which they can be released. These should cover non-native geese, but may either exclude translocations within a country or trading zone or be difficult or impossible to enforce where no import/export controls apply.
 
Public awareness

There is clearly a need for increasing public awareness of the dangers of introducing non-native geese to new areas and of translocating them within areas where they already occur.
 
Eradication
 
Introductions to Australia and Hawaii failed but there is no evidence to suggest whether there was any attempt to eradicate them.
 
Control
 
Physical/mechanical control

Shooting and scaring are the main means of discouraging B. canadensis from causing economic damage on farmland and near airports. Shooting does not appear to be helpful in reducing population sizes, although it may help to slow population growth in some regions. In Sweden, birds may be shot outside the open season to prevent crop damage or danger to public health (NOBANIS, 2008). The EU Birds Directive currently protects B. canadensis from hunting during the breeding season, when shooting could be most effective for population control. Prevention of hatching by pricking eggs or coating them with paraffin is widely practised in the UK and may, in combination with shooting, be slowing the growth of the population.
 
Movement control

Extensive translocations of introduced birds in the UK were undertaken during the 1950s and 1960s away from areas where agricultural damage was becoming apparent, but resulted only in the formation of new subpopulations and a massive boost to the UK population as a whole (Lever, 2005). In North America, resident urbanised geese caught during their flightless stage were formerly translocated, until it was realised that this only exacerbated the problem.

Gaps in Knowledge/Research Needs

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Further and more detailed information is needed on the impacts of B. canadensis, to strengthen the case for control measures and to discourage further introductions and translocations.

References

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Andersson A; Madsen J; Mooji J; Reitan O, 1999. Canada goose Branta canadensis: Fennoscandia/continental Europe. In: Goose populations of the western Palearctic: a review of status and distribution [ed. by Madsen J, Cracknell G, Fox T]. Wageningen, Netherlands: Wetlands International, 236-245. [Wetlands International Publ. No. 48.]

Appleton D, 2010. Hybrid geese. unpaginated. http://www.gobirding.eu/Photos/HybridGeese

Austin GE; Belman PJ; McMeeking J, 2002. Canada goose Branta canadensis. In: The Migration Atlas: movements of the birds of Britain and Ireland [ed. by Wernham CV, Toms MP, Marchant JH, Clark JA, Siriwardena GM, Baillie SR]. London, UK: T. & A.D. Poyser, 169-171.

Banks AN; Wright LJ; Maclean IMD; Hann C; Rehfisch MM, 2008. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Review of the status of introduced non-native waterbird species in the area of the African-Eurasian Waterbird Agreement: 2007 update. Thetford, UK: British Trust for Ornithology, unpaginated. [BTO Research Report 489.]

Banks RC; Cicero C; Dunn JL; Kratter AW; Rasmussen PC; Remsen Jr JV; Rising JD; Stotz DF, 2004. Forty-fifth supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds. Auk, 121:985-995.

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Links to Websites

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WebsiteURLComment
Birds of North America online - Canada goosehttp://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/682/articles/introduction
Ocean Wanderers - goose id and rangehttp://www.oceanwanderers.com/CAGO.Subspecies.html
Sibley Guides - Canada goosehttp://www.sibleyguides.com/2007/07/identification-of-cackling-and-canada-goose/

Organizations

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World: BirdLife International, Wellbrook Court, Girton Road, Cambridge, CB3 0NA, UK, http://www.birdlife.org

Contributors

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31/08/09 Original text by:

John Marchant, British Trust for Ornithology, The Nunnery, Thetford, IP24 2PU, UK

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