Emperor Goose Anser canagicus


Justification of Red List category
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.

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.

Distribution and population

Anser canagicus 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).


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

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).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Anser canagicus. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org/species/factsheet/emperor-goose-anser-canagicus on 21/09/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://datazone.birdlife.org on 21/09/2023.