Greater Snow Goose
(Anser caerulescens atlanticus)


Picture of bird
© Gilles Gonthier - License
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Greater Snow Goose breeds in the Canadian Eastern High Arctic, with the largest nesting colony on Bylot Island, Nunavut. During migration, the entire population stages in the marshes and agricultural lands of southern Quebec, and a small part of the population has begun to migrate through eastern Ontario and northern New Brunswick. The Greater Snow Goose population underwent a dramatic increase from a few thousand individuals in the 1930s to one million birds in 1999. The Greater Snow Goose has been designated as overabundant and has been subject to special conservation measures to control its numbers. In fact, harvest regulations were liberalized and a spring conservation season was established in Quebec in 1998; it was subsequently extended in 2012 to southeastern Ontario. Since the implementation of special conservation measures, the population has remained relatively stable, fluctuating annually between approximately 700,000 and 1 million birds. The harvest of Greater Snow Geese has increased since the end of the 1980s and has more than doubled since the introduction of special conservation measures in Canada and the United States. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.

See also:

Snow Goose
Lesser Snow Goose


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge IncreaseHighAbove Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada500,000 - 1,000,000 birds

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Short-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery High

Conservation and management

In an effort to stop population growth and reduce the population size of the Greater Snow Goose, higher bag and possession limits were put in place in the fall of 1998 in Quebec. These special measures were designed to increase goose harvesting by hunters by allowing additional hunting techniques, liberalizing the maximum daily catch and maximum number of birds to hunt, and creating a spring conservation harvest. Following the implementation of these measures, the growth of the Greater Snow Goose population appears to have stabilized (Reed and Calvert 2007). 


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 -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation