Tag Archives: Victoria Island

Brant Goose ? The Goose With Three Names

Canada’s North is dark, cold and hostile.  Very few people live there.  There are few roads, swarms of mosquitoes and frequent bad weather so it’ s safe to say the climate is inhospitable.  Expect to be surprised by what does live there.


For one, the Brant Goose (branta bernida) breeds here. (It is commonly called by all three of the names in the title, though Brant Goose was the original and the most widely accepted name). Only two snow-free months of the year are suitable for this, and within this time, it lays and hatches eggs, raises the young and takes off to winter either further south or to fly the 8000 miles across the Atlantic to places like Jersey’s coast. That’s some journey and it needs to be in good shape to complete it.


It’s main breeding areas are the lower Arctic regions of the Yukon-Kushokwim Delta, Mackenzie Delta, Victoria Island and Melville, Prince Patric and Eglington Islands.  Melville islands flock are thought to be distinctive.  If they are then their numbers are quite small, around 6000.


It has to sustain itself for this flight and it is really only partial to certain types of food.  These are in particular eel-grass and to a lesser extent, algae and herring eggs.  This turns out to be one of the reasons for its decline.  It really does need to change its palate!  Eel-grass is not found everywhere.  It is a blooming underwater grass in shallow sub-tidal areas, which spreads by roots or rhiazomes, and it is a little factory for a variety of feasters.


Brant Geese and Eel-grass are entwined.  Industrialization kills off eel-grass so it’s important to get the balance right between human progress and the natural environment.


The Brant Goose resembles the smaller, shorter-necked forms of the Canada Goose but it is much darker without white cheeks.  It breeds farther north than any other known goose.  The eggs and downy young are preyed upon by crows, gulls, mink and a variety of other small animals including bullfrogs, pike and carp.  But it is man who preys upon the adult goose.


Geese are tasty to eat.  They provide goose fat, considered by some to be one of the highest class fats of all.  Their belly feathers provide down for duvets and pillows and then there is foie gras, a goose pate made from force feeding the geese.  Goose confit is also a food speciality, having a strong following in France.  Originally it was a method used to preserve the meat when no refrigerators existed.  The leg meat is seasoned and herbs are added.  It is then deep fried slowly in its own rendered fat.  When cooking is complete the dish cools down and the fat solidifies around the leg thereby preserving it.  There is evidence that geese have long been domesticated though it is not likely that the Brant Goose, because of it’s Arctic breeding environment, ever fell into this category.


Additionally, hunting geese was a popular water sport.  Using decoys and mimicking their honking noise attracted geese flying in the area to investigate closer, often to the detriment of one or other of the flock.  Even digging pits, camouflaging them and setting out fifteen or sixteen decoys on the ground above the pit, making everything look as real as possible, proved a successful way to lure them in, ready for the kill.  There is a school of thought that the more decoys you have, the more likely you are to attract geese to settle among the decoys.


It is only legal to hunt Brant geese today if you have a licence by DEFRA which in turn is only awarded when it can be proved that the goose is damaging crops.  They will remain a protected species until their numbers return to sustainable levels.


The following boats are especially suited to hunting or fishing:


Sevylor Fish Hunter Inflatable Boats. Model HF280, Length 92?, Beam 46? Wt 30 lbs., Max.Cap 700 lbs. This is designed specifically for fishermen.  It accepts a 3 hp gas motor at the stern and Sevylors 12 volt motor at the bow or stern.  It features two fishing rod holders, small gear bag, a battery pouch, plenty of grablines, and 4 drain plugs.  It comes complete with Boston safety valves, swivel oarlocks, chafing pads, and two inflatable seats. Priced at $159.99.  Oars and motor sold separately.


The Challenger Boat Kit by Intex – 3 Person.  It has 2 air chambers for safety, an all-around grab line and grab handle on bow.  It has an inflatable floor for comfort and rigidity.  Welded oar locks, oar holder, 2 inflatable seat cushions and US Coast Guard I.D.  It includes 2 x 48? aluminium oars and High Output Hand Pump plus other features.  At present it is just over half price at $71.62


Nu Canoe also do a series of 10? and 12? boats in various colors, suited to a variety of purposes of which hunting is one.


Factual information in this article was researched mainly from Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.



A retired high school teacher of geography and maths.

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