Goose’s Overpopulation is Still a Threat to Arctic Ecosystem
February 26, 2007 - Waterfowl hunters can still get in some hunting though duck season is over until next fall. In many mid-continent and Northeastern states, the special light goose - greater and lesser snow geese - conservation-hunting season is now open.
In the late 1990s, biologists across North America recognized that the snow goose population was outgrowing its breeding ground habitat in the arctic and sub-arctic salt marshes. Left unchecked, the birds would destroy this habitat, posing a serious threat to the long-term health of the arctic ecosystem and its other wildlife communities.
The scientific research pointed to the need to reduce the continental light goose population by 50 percent. Hunters were asked to do the job through a special spring season along with a few other changes designed to increase harvest.
“Clearly, we haven’t met the goal of cutting the mid-continent snow goose population in half,” said DU Chief Biologist Bruce Batt. “But we have doubled the snow goose kill from what it was historically.”
Batt chairs the Artic Goose Habitat Working Group. He says the group is assessing the impact of the special snow goose conservation season since its inception in 2000 and will release a report recommending next steps in about one year.
In the meantime, you can enjoy some great spring light goose hunting. Here are some hunting tips.
- Drive roads to scout fields where snow geese are feeding. Ask the landowner if you can hunt there.
- Snow geese usually return to a field until they’ve eaten everything. However, they rarely return to a field that’s been hunted hard.
- Hunt all day. This time of year birds can move at any time.
- More is generally better, but small numbers of realistic decoys can also be effective.
- Be mobile. Move your spread at least every few days.
- Use layout blinds or wear white.
- Electronic calls are helpful. Experiment with how loud and aggressive your calling should be.
- Hold your fire! Wait until the first group of birds settles into the decoys before shooting at other incoming birds.
- Shoot birds on the fringe of your effective range, then work your way back to closer birds.
- Focus on shooting one bird at a time.
- 3-inch shotgun shells with No. 1 or BB steel shot work well for snow geese.
Related Recipe: Pan-Seared Snow Goose Breasts, Peppers and Onions
With more than a million supporters, Ducks Unlimited is the world’s largest and most effective wetland and waterfowl conservation organization with almost 12 millions acres conserved. The United States alone has lost more than half of its original wetlands – nature’s most productive ecosystem – and continues to lose more than 80,000 wetland acres each year.