Ask Outdoors Girl

December 18, 2010

Reader John Sadler of Baltimore asks: Perhaps you can explain why, with so many resident Canada geese, we don't have a dedicated hunting season for them. Their offspring will never migrate, and soon they will be the only geese we see.

Outdoors Girl turns to Larry Hindman, the Department of Natural Resources bird boss, who replies: These "resident" Canada geese are not geese that have lost the urge to migrate, as their migrant cousins do each fall and spring. Resident Canada geese are genetically different from migratory Canada geese. They are larger, lay more eggs, and are more sedentary that their migratory cousins. They originated from two subspecies, or races, of Canada geese that are native to the Midwest that were bought and used by East Coast hunters as live decoys in the early 1900s. Additional birds from the Midwest were stocked by state and federal wildlife agencies on wildlife refuges in the 1940s and 1950s to attract migratory geese during the fall. Over several decades, these "residents" have increased as they have adapted to living in close association with people.

Each year, Maryland DNR holds three hunting seasons dedicated to increasing the harvest of resident Canada geese: two seasons in September (Sept. 1-15 in eastern counties; Sept. 1-25 in western counties) that occur prior to the fall arrival of migrant geese; and an 80-day regular season (Nov. 15 - Nov. 26, Dec. 16 - Mar. 5) in the western portion of the state. These hunting seasons occur at times and in geographical areas designed to target resident geese.

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