Aleutian Cackling Geese

 Success Story: With a spectacular comeback from about 300 birds to more than 120,000, the Aleutian cackling goose was saved from extinction. It took over 30 years of work by the Refuge, other Fish and Wildlife Service staff, and cooperators along its west coast migration route from Canada to California to save this bird and bring it off the Endangered Species List.

Bringing back the Aleutian cackling goose is the first success of the refuges invasive species program. Keys to the successful restoration of the Aleutian goose were (1) removal of invasive species (introduced foxes) from the goose’s former nesting islands (2) moving goslings to those fox-free islands to reestablish them as nesting locations and (3) protecting them on their wintering grounds in California and Oregon.

More and More Each Year: Monitoring on those now-fox-free Aleutian islands is showing additional benefits to other wildlife. From 10 to 15 kinds of seabirds are increasing without harassment and predation by the alien foxes. Populations should continue to increase for several decades.

Saved from Endangered List: Several endemic animals (breeding only in a local area) seem to be out of danger. Until removal of the foxes, these animals had been candidates for the Endangered Species List.

Now Ptarmigan: Evermann's rock ptarmigan, endemic to the western Aleutians, had survived the foxes only on rugged Attu Island. Refuge biologists captured 75 ptarmigan in 2003 and 2004 and carried them on the M/V Tiglax to Agattu Island where the birds nested before the fox were introduced. Agattu has been fox-free since 1979. Evermann's rock ptarmigan are now successfully nesting on Agattu for the first time in nearly a century.