In 2018, we initiated a study on the use of
the James Bay east coast by Canada geese during their migrations. The main
objectives were (1) to identify the goose populations harvested in Eeyou
Istchee using band recoveries, (2) to establish the current use of the coast by
Canada geese by conducting aerial surveys, and (3) to determine the routes,
timing, and habitat use by Canada geese during spring and fall migrations
through GPS tracking.
Using bands recovered by Eeyou hunters
during the last 20 years, we demonstrated that they harvested geese from four
distinct populations including two subspecies and two flyways (Giroux et al,
2022). These included the Atlantic Population of short-necked geese (Branta
canadensis interior) that breed in Nunavik, the Southern Hudson Bay
Population of short-necked geese that breed in southwestern James Bay and
southern Hudson Bay, the Atlantic Flyway Resident Population of long-necked
geese (Branta canadensis maxima) that breed in temperate regions and
undertake a molt migration to the north, and finally the Mississippi Flyway
Giant Population of long-necked geese that also breed in the south and
undertake a molt migration.
Four aerial surveys were conducted in 2018
along the eastern coast of James Bay, two in spring and two in fall (Sorais et
al, to be submitted). During both seasons, the main concentrations of
geese were noted between Eastmain and Wemindji. In spring, the greatest goose
densities were observed in traplines with the greatest proportion of salt
marshes. In fall, traplines with the greatest proportion of tidal flats and
areas with murky water had the greatest densities of geese. Eelgrass beds could
have been present in murky water but undetected through remote sensing.
In collaboration with the tallyman of the
Boatswain Bay area, we succeeded in capturing and fitting 22 free-flying Canada
geese with GPS devices in September 2018 (Sorais et al, 2022). These geese were
long necks returning after their molt in northern Quebec en route to their
wintering grounds in the Mississippi and Atlantic Flyways. During their
subsequent molt migrations to Nunavik, the marked birds arrived on average on
June 7th and individuals spent three days at three stopovers using
tidal flats, salt marshes, deep water, and shallow water. In fall, they arrived
on September 8th and spent on average four days at two stopovers
using shallow water, freshwater wetlands, peatlands, and tidal flats. We
produced videos showing fall and spring migrations of one of these long-necked
Canada geese, as well as a video showing its local movements during a stopover
in eastern James Bay (https://www.youtube.com/@niskamoon9382). This study
allowed us to conclude that molt migrant temperate-breeding geese can increase
harvest opportunities and represent supplement wildlife food for Eeyou
communities who traditionally target short-necked geese. Although there was a
particular interest in tracking short-necks in eastern James Bay, especially
from Eeyou hunters who target these geese, we were not able to capture
short-necks in Boatswain Bay.
The objective of this project is to conduct
an initial assessment of the Canada Geese population breeding on Long Island,
NU, in preparation for a potential subsequent monitoring program. Although the
use of Hudson Bay by breeding Canada geese is yet to be investigated, it is
likely that short necks from the Atlantic Population breed on islands west of
the Ungava Peninsula. These geese possibly migrate along eastern James Bay on
their way to their breeding ground or their wintering ground. Understanding how
short necks use habitats in this area would be useful for Eeyou hunters. Long
Island (54°52'N, 79°25'O) is an inhabited 50 km-long island located in Hudson
Bay, east of the junction with James Bay, and at approximately 10 km north of
trapline CH07. Satellite images suggest that this island is covered by a low
vegetation and numerous water ponds. This represents an ideal breeding ground
for Canada geese and Eeyou land users have previously reported the presence of
breeding geese on Long Island (Reggie Scipio, personal communications).
We propose to visit Long Island twice in
2023, once during incubation (mid-June), and once during molt (mid-August). Each
visit would require four full days, including the time for transportation by
boat between Chisasibi, QC, and Long Island. Several additional days on site
might be required in case of bad weather or unforeseen constrains. The research
team (three to four trained people) will camp on site during the visits. The
camp will be temporary and will be put down at the end of each visit.
The activities planned for the first visit
·Exploration of sections of the island.
·Inventory of breeding pairs and active
nests (in selected sections).
·Marking of a sample of active nests.
·Aging of eggs in a subsample of active
·Assessment of Long Island as a working
ground for potential subsequent monitoring programs.
The activities planned for the first visit are:
·Examination of previously marked nests (mid-June) to estimate the reproductive success of the breeding population
·Observation of geese behavior during molt to determine the best method of capture for subsequent monitoring programs.
We anticipate minor disturbance of breeding
female geese as we will approach their nests and manipulate their eggs. The
approach, the marking of the nests, and the manipulation of the eggs will be
conducted by Manon Sorais, trained research scientist, with the objective to
limit the time of intervention and the stress of the animals. A full report of
these research activities will be produced by the end of the second visit.
Manon Sorais (firstname.lastname@example.org),
research scientist, will lead these visits in collaboration with Niskamoon corporation
partners. Canadian Wildlife Service (Québec) and Jean-François Giroux,
professor, are consulting on the scientific planification of this project.
Giroux, J.-F., J. Rodrigue, R. W. Brook,
and M. Patenaude-Monette. 2022. Canada Goose populations harvested in Eastern
James Bay by Eeyou Istchee Cree hunters. Avian Conservation and Ecology
Malecki, R. A., B. D. J. Batt,
and S. E. Sheaffer. 2001. Spatial and temporal distribution of Atlantic
population Canada geese. Journal of Wildlife Management 65:242-247.
Sorais, M., M. Patenaude-Monette, C. Sharp, R. Askren, A. LaRocque,
B. Leblon, and J.-F. Giroux. 2022. Migration patterns and habitat use by molt
migrant temperate-breeding Canada geese in James Bay, Canada. Wildlife
Sorais, M., M. Patenaude-Monette, A. LaRocque, B. Leblon, and J.-F.
Giroux. Distribution and habitat use of Canada geese during their spring and
fall migration along the James Bay east coast. To be submitted.