The State Game and Fish Department is considering an option to increase the daily limit for the early Canada goose season from eight to 15, following recent action by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regulations Committee.
The service regulations committee is allowing an increase in the bag limit from last year in response to recommendations from North Dakota and South Dakota to allow greater harvest on resident Canada geese. “A daily limit of 15 would give hunters an opportunity to take more birds when they are available,” said Randy Kreil, wildlife division chief for the Game and Fish Department. “We are looking at every option we can to increase hunter harvest of our resident Canada goose population.”
Game and Fish first held an early Canada goose season in 1999. Since then, the open area and season length have expanded.
In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized states to expand their resident goose management seasons into August. While the season could open as early as Aug. 1, most landowners and hunters are comfortable with starting a couple of weeks after that, to allow for small grain harvest to open up stubble fields for hunting. In addition, weather conditions are generally more favorable for hunting as the month progresses.
Until last year, the daily limit in the early season was five, and last year Game and Fish increased the limit to eight, which under federal regulations was the maximum allowed during the September portion of the early season.
“Our resident goose population is at record levels,” Kreil said. “We understand that nearly doubling the early season daily limit isn’t going to double the harvest, but it certainly would help increase the harvest.”
The small game proclamation that will set season dates and limits for the early goose season will not be finalized until late July. The season is tentatively set to open Aug. 15.
Last year the early Canada goose season opened Aug. 13 and ran through Sept. 15, except in a special Missouri River zone where the season closed Sept. 8. The seven fewer early season days in the Missouri River zone are added to the end of the regular goose season in December.