Resident Canada geese on the increase

Longer season proposed for western counties


August 15, 1999|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The state's flocks of resident Canada geese have increased to more than 70,000 birds, and hunting seasons for them will be expanded this year in an effort to help control the population boom.

"Along with other states in the Atlantic Flyway, we are seeking ways to increase the harvest of resident Canada geese without affecting the migrant Canada goose population," said Dr. Sarah Taylor-Rogers, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources.

Migratory birds come south from Canada along the flyway each fall and move north to their breeding grounds each spring.

Resident Canada geese are those seen year round in Maryland along creeks and rivers, on golf courses and lawns and in farmers' fields.

According to DNR, in some parts of the state, resident Canada geese have become a nuisance to landowners and have caused substantial damage to agricultural crops.

Hunting seasons for resident Canadas are proposed for September, late November, December and January.

In the eastern portion of the state, where migratory geese begin to arrive as early as late September, the resident season will be open only from Sept. 1-15.

In the western zone (Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery, Washington and those parts of Baltimore, Howard and Prince George's counties west of I-95), the early season will run from Sept. 1-25.

"Very few migrant Canada geese visit the western part of the state," said Mike Slattery, director of DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Division. "So, extending the closing date in this area will not adversely impact the migrant population."

The late season splits -- Nov. 15-26, Dec. 8-Jan. 5, Jan. 10-13 and Jan. 18-Feb. 15 -- will be open only in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Washington and parts of Montgomery county.

The bag limits are five per day during the September season, two per day in the first three late season splits and three per day from Jan. 18-Feb. 15.

Duck seasons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service forecasts a fall flight of about 104 million ducks, with all but two of the 10 major species surveyed in North America above their long-term population averages.

"Hunters can expect a bumper crop of ducks this year," said Taylor-Rogers. "With wetland basins and upland nesting cover in good to excellent condition this spring and summer throughout much of the north-central U.S. and Canada, breeding duck populations are near record levels."

As a result, the USFWS framework will allow a 60-day duck seasons in the Atlantic Flyway, and Maryland is proposing three season splits -- Oct. 9-16, Nov. 5-26 and Dec. 13-Jan. 20.

The proposed basic bag limit for ducks is five per day, and hunters can take one bonus teal per day for a total of six.

Webless migratory seasons

Hunting seasons for dove, rails and snipe are essentially the same as last year, but seasons for woodcock will continue to be restrictive because timberdoodle populations have been declining.

Under the framework set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, woodcock may be hunted from Oct. 25 to Nov. 13 and from Jan. 10-19. The daily limit is three.

The decline in woodcock numbers has been caused by loss and degradation of habitat and below-average reproduction. The restrictive hunting seasons are expected to improve the status of woodcock in the Atlantic Flyway.

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