The California Fish and Game Commission approved a split season for large Canada geese in the Balance of the State Zone for the 2010/2011 season. Except for the North Coast Special Management Area, the hunting season for large Canada geese in the Balance of the State Zone will be open from Oct. 2 through Oct. 6, 2010, and again with the general waterfowl season from Oct. 23 through Jan. 30, 2011.
The Balance of the State Zone includes all of central California and many counties in the north state. A map of this zone can be found at the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) website at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/waterfowl/images/waterfowlzonemap.gif. The split season for large Canada geese is not in effect for the North Coast Special Management Area, which includes all of Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
The addition of the earlier season means that goose hunters will have the maximum number of hunting days permissible under federal law, and is intended to increase the harvest of large Canada geese in portions of their range in California. Large Canada geese, also known as “honkers,” have spread throughout much of the state in response to new habitats created by humans. In many of these areas, the birds are overabundant and have become a nuisance.
Hunters must be in possession of a valid hunting license, both the State and Federal Duck Stamps and a free Harvest Information Program Stamp. Only nontoxic shot can be used and hunters are required to leave a fully feathered wing or the head attached to geese when transporting them. Proper safety precautions should always be taken, including wearing shooting safety glasses in the field.
The daily bag limit is six birds and the possession limit is 12. Only honkers may be harvested during the early season, Oct. 2 through Oct. 6.
DFG has several Type C wildlife areas that will be open for the early season, including the Thermalito Afterbay Unit of the Oroville Wildlife Area, which may provide excellent opportunities to hunt large Canada geese. Other Type C Wildlife Areas can be found in the current waterfowl hunting regulations at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.
Type A and B Wildlife Areas will not be available for hunting in the first season, as they will be in the final stages of habitat and water management augmentations in preparation for the winter migration and Oct. 23 opener.
A summary of waterfowl hunting season regulations is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/10-11-waterfowl-sum.html and the complete regulations can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations. For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact their regional DFG office.