Pennsylvania Game Commission Preps for Spring Snow Goose Hunting

January 17, 2013 in All Posts

Member Photo Credit - George Ruland

Member Photo Credit – George Ruland

HARRISBURG, Pa., Dec. 27, 2012 – Pennsylvania Game Commission officials are set to offer hunters the opportunity to participate in a snow goose conservation hunt designed to help stem the growth of continental snow goose populations.  Hunters must obtain a free snow goose conservation hunt permit and report cards from the agency to participate in the season.

In the Atlantic Population Goose Zone, the special snow goose conservation season runs from Jan. 28-April 26.  In the Southern James Bay Population Goose Zone, the special snow goose conservation season runs from Jan. 19-April 26.  The Resident Population Goose Zone special snow goose conservation season will run March 1-April 26.

To obtain the required permit, hunters can access the “Snow Goose Conservation Hunt” page by clicking on the appropriate icon in the center of the agency’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) and then following the instructions.  By completing the application online, hunters will be able to print off the permit and report cards and will not have to wait for the package to be mailed.

For those individuals with no online access, permits and the required report cards can be obtained by calling the Game Commission at the Harrisburg headquarters (717-787-4250) and asking for the Bureau of Wildlife Management.  However, this process will require mailing the permit and report cards to the applicant, so allow a minimum of one week for processing and mail delivery to obtain a permit.

“In North America, overabundant greater and lesser snow and Ross’ goose populations (collectively referred to as ‘light geese’) have caused extensive and possibly irreversible damage to their, as well as other nesting birds’ arctic and sub-arctic breeding grounds,” said Kevin Jacobs , Game Commission waterfowl biologist. “For some populations, their nesting habitats can no longer support these large numbers. What’s more, overabundant Atlantic Flyway greater snow geese impact fragile coastal marsh habitats and crops in Mid-Atlantic States and Quebec.

“It’s likely that North America has never had as many light geese as it does now.  The recent spring population of greater snow geese that inhabits the Atlantic Flyway has stabilized near one million birds, double the management goal of 500,000.  They are a huge and unexpected problem for themselves and other wildlife that share the migration, wintering and breeding grounds these waterfowl occupy.”

The most effective way for wildlife managers to respond to the problem is to allow additional hunting days – and hunting methods – to reduce and stabilize light goose populations. Light geese are especially difficult to harvest due to their highly gregarious behavior and often require these additional methods to sustain increased harvest rates.  Snow goose hunters are important partners in managing sustainable continental populations.  Therefore, as part of the special snow goose conservation hunt, electronic calls and decoys are legal, and legal shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset. All other waterfowl shooting hours close at sundown, except for the September Canada goose season. Electronic calls and decoys are not legal for any other waterfowl season.

Participating states are required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor and assess hunting activity and harvest. That is why the Game Commission has created the free Snow Goose Conservation Hunt Permit.

“Along with this permit, hunters must possess a general hunting license, migratory game bird license and a federal duck stamp (for those 16 or older),” Jacobs said. “The permit holder will be required to maintain records specifying hunting activity and daily harvest. All permit holders must submit a report, even if they did not hunt or harvest any birds, to the Game Commission no later than May 28.  Failure to report by May 28 may result in loss of eligibility to participate in next year’s snow goose conservation hunt.”

The regular snow goose season, which opened statewide on Oct. 27, has different ending dates. In the Atlantic Population Goose Zone, the regular snow goose season will close on Jan. 26; in the Southern James Bay Population Goose Zone, on Jan. 18; and, in the Resident Population Goose Zone, on Feb. 28. During this season, hours are one-half hour before sunrise until sunset, and the use of electronic calls and decoys is illegal.

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