BC List Status:
Blue (Considered to be of Special Concern)
Several species of ptarmigan occur on Vancouver Island. The white retrices remain one of the key characteristics for identifying the saxitalis subspecies, especially during seasonal molt changes. Rock Ptarmigan is similar in size and shape to White-tailed Ptarmigan, but the tail margins are distinctly black and males have a black line from the bill to the eye. Willow Ptarmigan are slightly larger than White-tailed Ptarmigan, have a reddish head and distinctly black retrices. The distinct red “eyebrow” is more visible in other ptarmigan species than in Lagopus leucura and its subspecies.
Distribution is restricted to higher elevations associated with specific forage plants in highly fragmented habitats (i.e. montane, subalpine and alpine zones).
Fragmentation creates migration barriers for seasonal range use and juvenile dispersal. Climate change may further reduce or impact extent and diversity of preferred habitats.
Limited recruitment and low population densities. Breeding success is limited by seasonal availability of food resources and subject to fluctuating conditions.
Fragmentation and loss of habitat due to pressures from forestry as well as expanded recreational land use (ski hill development, hiking, mountain-biking and snowmobiling).
Increase spread of predators and non-native flora and fauna due to increased road development from human activities such as recreational land uses and forestry.
Regional air and water pollution is an increasing concern for high elevation species. Concentrations of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in alpine snowpacks increase in higher elevation areas in Western Canada.
Apply conservation and management objectives as set-out in the “Accounts and Measures for Managing Identified Wildlife – Accounts V. 2004 Vancouver Island White-tailed Ptarmigan Lagopus leucura saxatilis.” Inventory and monitoring resources include standardized methods from Provincial RISC standards # 17, Upland Gamebirds Grouse, Quail and Columbids, Version 1.1. For further details on conservation and management objectives for this species, please consult the noted resources and references provided or contact provincial and federal agencies.
This species is listed under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA) and is subject to protections and prohibitions under the BC Wildlife Act and is Identified Wildlife under the Forest and Range Practices Act. Habitat for this species may also be governed under provincial and federal regulations including the Fish Protection Act and Federal Fisheries Act as well as Regional and local municipal bylaws.