For most waterfowl hunters, the hunting season never lasts quite long enough. Just when it seems the ducks are finally plentiful or when you're looking for a bright spot to end the season, it's time to put the guns away for those eight or so long months until the next one opens. But for the past 11 years, hunters have found some consolation in federally litigated light goose hunting, which lasts as long as the geese are around. So what made the government step in and throw hunters a bone? The answer is actually a matter of ecosystem conservation.
Too many geese, not enough land
In the late 1990s, then-DU-Chief-Biologist Dr. Bruce Batt served as chairman of a committee anxious to address a very serious conservation problem: overabundant mid-continent snow geese causing damage to arctic and sub-arctic nesting grounds critical to a variety of other waterfowl and wildlife. With the light goose population increasing by five percent each year, Batt and his fellow committee members performed population modeling and made a recommendation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service that pleased many waterfowl hunters.
"We were concerned about the degradation of this habitat in the arctic and sub-arctic regions, and we found the best way to control adult survival was to relax hunting restrictions on snow, blue and Ross's geese," Batt said. "This option made the most sense. Hunting is a socially acceptable pastime, hunters are educated in the proper methods and they could help our cause at basically no cost to the government or private conservation organizations."
The eased-up restrictions this act has provided for hunters include:
- The ability to use electronic callers
- The ability to use unplugged shotguns
- Shooting hours extended to a half-hour past sunset
- No bag limit
- Hunters must possess a valid hunting license from any state.
- Shooting hours during the Snow, Blue and Ross' Goose Conservation Order are one-half (½) hour before sunrise (local time) until one-half (½) hour after sunset (local time).