Rock Ptarmigan
(Lagopus muta)


Picture of bird
© Tony Battiste
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The majority of Rock Ptarmigan are found in arctic habitats, although small numbers occur in alpine tundra as far south as southern British Columbia. Rock Ptarmigan remain widespread and abundant in Canada but few quantitative data are available on population trends for this species. Information was determined to be insufficient for a reliable assessment of status relative to 1970. Because of its high-elevation and -latitude distribution, the Rock Ptarmigan faces few anthropogenic threats. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Partners in Flight (North America)Stewardship List2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaData DeficientData Deficient

Population estimate

Canada500,000 to 5,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence


Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

In its arctic habitats the species is exposed to comparatively few anthropogenic threats. It is heavily hunted by Inuit, often leading to extirpation in the immediate vicinity of communities (Montgomerie and Holder 2008). However, populations are resilient to this hunting pressure over larger geographic areas. 


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern Region
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Quebec Region