Western goose hunters may catch break
Thursday, July 7, 2005 12:07 PM EDT
By Tim Spielmant Associate Editor
Bemidji, Minn. - Goose hunters in western Minnesota, often limited by special protections for Eastern Prairie Population Canada geese, which migrate through the area, may have fewer limitations this fall.
DNR waterfowl specialist Steve Cordts recently got a first-hand look at EPP production in Canada, and said things are looking up for the migrants.
Cordts, who spent a couple weeks in Churchill, Manitoba, near nesting sites of the EPPssaid this year's breeding survey was especially promising, especially compared to last year,, when a late spring contributed to fewer breeders.
This year, however, "There were as many Canada and snow goose nests as I've ever seen there," Cordts said.
The breeding survey is the first part of what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service uses to determine season length and bag limits for EPPs. The second part monitors the number of nests and later, the fate of the nesting efforts.
"There are no final numbers, but from what I saw, it should be a good year," Cordts said. A decrease in predators - for a variety of reasons - also could boost goose production.
What does that mean for Minnesota hunters? Most likely, more time to hunt geese.
Last year, the season in the West-Central Zone was 25 days. This year, it most likely will resemble the season of two years ago, when a 40-day season was in place, Cordts said. It also could mean a longer goose hunting season for hunters in other parts of the state, he said.
The early season may change, Cordts said. The Northwest Zone may join the rest of the state (except the Southeast Zone) in offering hunters a bag limit of five geese daily. Cordts said it's likely the season still will be short in the northeast, likely Sept. 3-15. The remainder of the state will have a Sept. 3-22 early season.
The early goose season is aimed at the harvest of local giant Canada geese. The current resident population is about 340,000, well above the current goal, Cordts said. But fewer depredation complaints have been reported lately, and the goal may be adjusted, he said.
The details of the early season should be determined soon.