New rules proposed on Canada geese

OUTDOORS

August 19, 1992|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- The proposed 1992-93 waterfowl hunting dates and bag limits announced by the state yesterday would -- for the first time -- extend the one-bird limit 20 days into the 60-day Canada goose season.

The change is necessary because the Atlantic Flyway Council and the federal government have agreed to a 60 percent reduction in the annual harvest rate of Canada geese in the Atlantic Flyway, said Josh Sandt, director of the Wildlife Division of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.The harvest reduction is expected to allow the migratory Canada goose population to increase after several years of decline. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's mid-winter survey estimated a population of 654,500 birds, the lowest number in 23 years.

The federal agency -- once it has established the size of the breeding population and the relative success of the breeding season -- annually sets the framework under which hunting seasons and bag limits may be set within the states of the four continental flyways.

This year, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, in the Chesapeake region of the Atlantic Flyway, will be allowed seasons spread over 60 days.

The Maryland proposal calls for 52 hunting days with 18 days at the one-bird limit and 34 at the two-bird limit.

"The reasons for taking such an action is that we have had several successive years of below average [reproduction]," Sandt said. "And this year is probably the worst year on record."

According to wildlife service surveys of the Atlantic Flyway breeding grounds in northern Quebec, Canada geese were unable to begin nesting until mid-June because of a late thaw.

The combination of poor breeding conditions and a small breeding population, Sandt said, will result in a relatively small fall flight and relatively few young birds in the flyway.

Smaller numbers of young birds in the fall flight mean that too many birds of breeding age may be killed by hunters. And without a high percentage of breeders each year it becomes increasingly harder to rebuild.

"We have seen a decline in the number of birds from somewhere in the neighborhood of 900,000 birds in 1986 to 655,000 birds last winter," Sandt said. "The flyway goal with the Canada goose [management] plan is to keep the population at about 725,000.

The 60 percent harvest reduction in the flyway will be in place for at least three years, during which time the younger birds will reach sexual maturity.

The reduction in harvest will be based on harvest rates from 1985 to 1987, when there were fewer restrictions on Maryland hunters.

Proposed waterfowl seasons

Canada geese

60 days; one bird per day for the first 20 days and two birds per day for the following 40 days. Shooting hours for all waterfowl nationwide are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

.............. ...............Daily. ........... Poss.

Dates. ......................... limit............. limit

Nov. 16 to Nov. 27................. 1.................. 2

Dec. 4 to Dec. 11. ................ 1. ................ 2

Dec. 12 to Jan. 20. ............... 2. ................ 4

Snow geese

Oct. 24 to Nov. 27................. 4.................. 8

Dec. 1 to Feb. 10. ................ 4.................. 8

.............................Brant

Nov. 16 to Nov. 27....... ........ 2 . .................4

Dec. 15 to Jan. 20................ 2.. ................ 4

..............................Ducks

Oct. 16 to Oct. 17 (excluding black ducks)

Nov. 27 to Nov. 27 (including black ducks

Dec. 15 to Jan. 9 (including black ducks)

Ducks limits: 3 ducks per day, which may include no more than 1 mallard hen, 1 pintail, 2 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 1 fulvous tree duck, 1 mottled duck and 1 black duck (when in season). Canvasback and harlequin are closed. Mergansers: daily limit of 5, of which 1 may be a hooded merganser. Coots: daily bay limit of 15.

Sea ducks (in sea duck zone only)

Oct. 9 to Jan. 20. ................ 5 . .................10

Public hearings

The state's Department of Natural Resources' Wildlife Division has scheduled three public hearings on the proposals for hunting seasons and limits for geese and ducks (all begin at 7 p.m.):

* Aug. 26: Meade High School, Fort Meade.

* Aug. 27: Holly Center, Route 12 (Snow Hill Road), Salisbury.

* Aug. 28: Kent County High School, off Route 213 at the intersection of routes 297 and 298, Wharton.

Written comment on the proposals should be sent to Josh Sandt, Department of Natural Resources, 580 Taylor Ave., Annapolis, Md. 21401. Letters must be received by 4 p.m. on Aug. 31.

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