The spring light goose season will be opening soon, and recent counts suggest that waterfowl numbers in the state are the highest in a few years.
The NDGF department’s Midwinter Waterfowl Survey in January counted 118,500 Canada geese and 26,500 mallards statewide.
“Conditions leading up to this year’s survey were highly variable, but lower than average snow conditions resulted in more birds in the state compared to the past couple winters,” said migratory game bird biologist Mike Szymanski.
While there are no reports of Snow Geese in the state as of yet, the general increase in waterfowl numbers could suggest that the season, which opens Feb. 21 and continues through May 17, might be a good one for North Dakota Hunters if conditions attract light geese to the state earlier than usual.
Availability of food and open water dictate when snow geese arrive in the state. Early migrants generally start showing up in the southeast part of the state in mid-to-late March, but huntable numbers usually aren’t around until the end of March or early April. Movements into and through the state will depend on available roosting areas and the extent of the snow line.
The NDGF reminds hunters that knowing to tell the difference between species is very important. The spring season is only open to light geese – snows, blues, and Ross’s. White-fronted and Canada geese travel with light geese, but the season is closed to whitefronts, Canada geese, swans and all other migratory birds. Shooting the wrong waterfowl will cost you.
The Game and Fish Department provides hunters with migration updates once geese enter the state. Hunters can access the department’s website to learn the latest areas of bird sightings in North Dakota. The reports will be updated periodically until the season ends, or when geese have left the state.
For more information on regulations refer to the 2015 Spring Light Goose Hunting Regulations and the 2014 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide.
(Photo: Simon Pierre Barrette/Wikimedia)