Co-Management Helps Emperor Geese

In 2017, a customary and traditional harvest of emperor geese was allowed for the first time in 30 years. Hunting for the geese closed in 1987 after the emperor goose population dropped to less than 45,000 birds. As the Emperor Goose population has slowly rebounded, the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council (AMBCC) created and passed a plan to re-open a limited harvest for the species: the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management plan for emperor geese.

The effort began as a collaborative education attempt to explain which geese were vulnerable. It grew into a movement to limit the harvest of the birds and culminated in the formation of the AMBCC in 2000 as co-management council. The AMBCC consists of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and representatives of Alaska’s Native population, including the Association of Village Council Presidents. The AMBCC’s primary purpose is to conserve migratory birds through development of recommendations for the subsistence spring/summer harvest in Alaska. Subsistence regulations were first published in 2003.

The AMBCC’s work involves treaties with countries that stretch the entire Pacific flyway from winter to summer habitats. The AMBCC works with the Pacific Flyway Council (PFC) to develop migratory bird hunting regulations and coordinate management of migratory birds. The PFC is an administrative body that forges cooperation among public wildlife agencies for the purpose of protecting and conserving migratory birds in western North America. The Council is composed of the director or an appointee from the public wildlife agency in each state and province in the western United States, Canada, and Mexico.

Eighty to ninety percent of the Emperor Goose population breeds on the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta, and the birds are only found in Alaska and a peninsula in eastern Russia.

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