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Executive Summary

  • The Ivory Gull is a medium-sized Arctic gull characterized by pure white plumage as an adult, with black legs and an olive-coloured bill, while immature gulls have distinctive black speckling. The Ivory Gull has a circumpolar, patchy breeding distribution, but in Canada it is found breeding only on five islands in the eastern High Arctic. Colonies can be found either on steep cliffs of nunataks (mountain tops surrounded by glaciers), isolated flat islands, or flat, limestone plateaus. The Canadian population is small and fragmented, and has declined significantly since the 1980s. The Ivory Gull is listed as endangered under the Species at Risk Act.

  • Because of the extremely remote nature of Ivory Gull nesting sites, some areas that might support colonies have not been surveyed, but in general there has been a contraction and northward movement of the distribution of extant colonies.

  • The primary threats to Ivory Gulls include: illegal shooting (principally during migration along west Greenland), predation at colonies on flat ground, and industrial activities near colonies. Other potential but unproven threats include: contaminants, activities (disturbance) by researchers, climate change, and oil pollution at sea.

  • Recovery of the Ivory Gull is deemed biologically and technically feasible. The long-term goal for this species is to see the Canadian population increased to more than 1000 birds in Canadian range-wide surveys, with the breeding distribution maintained. Over the next five years, the population and distribution objectives for the Ivory Gull are to: 1) secure and maintain population numbers on eastern Ellesmere Island at 2009 levels over a five year average, 2) maintain the annual population at Seymour Island at 100 birds, 3) maintain the presence of Ivory Gulls on Baffin, Cornwallis and Devon Islands, and 4) maintain the presence of wintering Ivory Gulls which includes Canadian waters in Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, and the coast of Labrador.

  • Critical habitat necessary for Ivory Gull survival or recovery is partially identified in this recovery strategy at 39 breeding colonies in Nunavut. The following islands contain portions of critical habitat for the Ivory Gull: Seymour, Cornwallis, Devon, Ellesmere, and Brodeur Peninsula of Baffin Island. Additional critical habitat will be identified in an action plan; studies required to identify critical habitat are outlined in Section 7.2.

  • An action plan for the Ivory Gull is scheduled for 2018.