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Project Information

Title: Pigeon Guillemot Restoration Research in Prince William Sound

Project Year and Number: 2017: 17100853

Other Fiscal Years and Numbers for this Project: 2016: 16100853, 2016: 11100853, 2015: 15100853, 2015: 11100853, 2014: 11100853-Am.8.29.13, 2014: 11100853, 2013: 11100853, 2012: 11100853, 2011: 11100853

Principal Investigator (PI): Robb Kaler

Assisting Personnel: David Irons

Research Location:

Restoration Category:

Injured Resources Addressed: Not Specified

Abstract: This proposal is for years 4 and 5 (2017-2018) of an ongoing 5-year project to protect and restore the pigeon guillemot population impacted by the oil spill in PWS. In the first three years of this project (2014-2016), mink were trapped to reduce predation on the pigeon guillemot nests in the Naked Island group, and has already shown some success, with an increasing number of guillemots. This proposal continues the trapping of mink around the pigeon guillemot nests, census counts of the pigeon guillemot population, and monitoring the productivity. As there has been no snow the last two years, which would allow us to easily determine if mink were still entering the pigeon guillemot nesting areas, we must continue to trap and set up trail cameras to try to determine to the best of our ability that no mink are entering the guillemot nesting areas.

This project provides an opportunity to restore the population of Pigeon Guillemots (Cepphus columba) in Prince William Sound, Alaska, which has fallen by more than 90% at the Naked Island Group since 1989. A restoration plan for Pigeon Guillemots in PWS was prepared to address the species’ lack of population recovery following injury by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Predation on nests and adults by mink is now the primary limiting factor for guillemot reproductive success and population recovery at the most important historical nesting site for guillemots in PWS (i.e., the Naked Island group). Mink on the Naked Island group are descended in part from fur farm stock and arrived on the island group during the 1980s. The goal of the project is to remove all mink from the Pigeon Guillemot nesting areas and allow for recovery to occur. We trapped for the first time in the winter and spring of 2014. Seventy-six mink were killed. During the 2015 trapping season 23 mink were killed in localized areas. During the last three weeks only three females were trapped, none were pregnant although it was breeding season. That is an indication that there are so few mink left in the nesting areas that was difficult to find a mate. Despite increased trapping efforts in 2015, overall mink take declined from 76 mink in 2014 to 23 mink in 2015. Of the 23 mink removed during 2015 trapping efforts, 12 were male (52%) and 11 were female (48%).

In summer 2015, we counted over 90 pigeon guillemots, up from 74 last year; control islands did not have a similar increase. We did not expect to see this large of increase in birds this year. The warm water in the Gulf of Alaska may have contributed as other species were moving from the Gulf to PWS. We surveyed active nests and found about 30 confirmed nests and about 20 suspected nests; last year we found 11. Colonies are starting to form again with up to 6 nests in one area. Productivity during the chick stage was high, around 80%, indicating that the adults could find enough food for their chicks.


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Proposal: View PDF (351 KB)

Funding Recommendations: View

Funding Detail For: 2017

Quarterly Project Tasks For: 2017

Annual Report: 2017: Due 09/01/2017

Final Report: See Project 2190

Publications from this Project: None Available

More information may be available for this project under other years:

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Project Number Proposal Annual Reports Final Report Data
2016: 16100853 View (PDF) 2016: View (PDF)
See Project 11100853 No datasets
2016: 11100853 View (PDF) 2016: Due 09/01/2016
Draft Final Report Due 4/15/18 No datasets
2015: 15100853 View (PDF) 2015: View (PDF)
See Project 11100853 No datasets
2015: 11100853 View (PDF) 2015: Due 09/01/2015
Draft Final Report Due 4/15/18 No datasets
2014: 11100853-Am.8.29.13 View (PDF) 2014: View (PDF)
See Project 11100853 No datasets
2014: 11100853 View (PDF) 2014: Due 09/01/2014
2013: Due 09/01/2013
2012: Due 09/01/2012
2011: View (PDF)
Draft Final Report Due 4/15/18 No datasets