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Response of Aleutian Canada Geese and Other Birds in the
Aleutian Islands to the Removal of Introduced Arctic Fox


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 5251, NAS Adak, AK 98791;
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 202 Pioneer Avenue, Homer, AK 99603

Prior to 1930, arctic fox (Alopex lagopus) and red fox (Vulpes vulpes) were introduced on most islands in southwestern Alaska for commercial fur production. Native bird populations on these treeless islands were extirpated or greatly reduced. Particularly severely impacted was an island-dwelling form of Canada goose, the Aleutian Canada goose (Branta canadensis leucopareia), and it was designated as an endangered species in 1967. Many of the islands in southwestern Alaska are within the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge, and refuge personnel have removed fox from at least 11 islands since the early 1960s. Observations indicated that a number of species repopulated islands after fox were removed. Particularly rapid increases were observed for loons (Gavia spp.), Aleutian green-winged teal (Anas crecca nimia), common eider (Somateria mollissima), glaucous-winged gull (Larus glaucescens), and rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus sp.). Aleutian Canada geese have not repopulated fox-free islands naturally, but translocation of geese from Buldir Island, the largest remnant breeding population, to islands in the western Aleutians has resulted in geese breeding again on Agattu and Nizki islands. It is clear that removing introduced foxes from islands in southwestern Alaska has tremendous benefit for nesting populations of waterfowl, seabirds, and ptarmigan.
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