Dove and Early Canada Goose Seasons To Begin Sept. 1 In Pennsylvania

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Mourning DoveHARRISBURG – Expanded dove bag limits top the list of changes to dove and early Canada goose seasons that will open Sept. 1, as part of Pennsylvania’s 2008-09 migratory bird seasons announced today by Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.

Dove hunters, once again, will have the opportunity to participate in a triple-split season. During the first season (Sept. 1-29), hunting will start at noon and continue through sunset daily. The second and third splits will be Oct. 20-Nov. 24, and Dec. 26-29, with hunting hours a half-hour before sunrise until sunset. In all three seasons, the daily bag limit will increase from 12 to 15, and the possession limit after opening day will increase from 24 to 30.

“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wants to simplify regulations, as some states currently have a 60-day season with 15 birds per day bag limit and others, such as Pennsylvania, have been holding a 70-day season and 12 birds per day bag limit,” said Roe of the selection package forwarded to the USFWS.

“Having a single season in all states in the eastern management unit enhances the USFWS’ ability to monitor harvest effects on the population, and present data indicates the population can support this additional harvest.”

The early statewide season for resident Canada geese will open Sept. 1, and continue through Sept. 25. There have been changes to bag limits and zone boundaries this year.  The Southern James Bay Population (SJBP) zone boundaries have been changed, and the bag limit has been reduced to three geese daily, and six in possession.  The SJBP zone is defined as: the area north of Interstate 80 and west of Interstate 79, including in the city of Erie west of Bay Front Parkway to the Lake Erie Duck zone, which includes Lake Erie, Presque Isle and the area within 150 yards of the Lake Erie shoreline.

Also, this year, hunters can take one Canada goose in the Pymatuning zone, while hunters may take up to three geese on Pymatuning State Park Reservoir and an area extending 100 yards inland from the shoreline of the reservoir, excluding the area east of SR 3011 (Hartstown Road).  However, in the Pymatuning zone, all of State Game Land 214, which is comprised of nearly 5,400 acres in Crawford County, is closed for the early Canada goose season. 

Canada Goose“Working with the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, we are again providing hunters with the opportunity to take Canada geese within this portion of the park to address problems being caused by the goose population,” said John Dunn, agency Game Bird Section supervisor.

Dunn also noted that the controlled hunting areas at the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon-Lancaster counties will remain closed to address the decline in the resident Canada goose flock.  In the area of Lancaster and Lebanon counties north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike I-76, east of SR 501 to SR 419, south of SR 419 to Lebanon-Berks county line, west of Lebanon-Berks county line and Lancaster-Berks county line to SR 1053 (also known as Peartown Road and Greenville Road), west of SR 1053 to Pennsylvania Turnpike I-76, the daily bag limit is one goose, possession limit two geese.  The early season is closed on State Game Land 46 (Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area).

Excluding these three areas, the early season in the remainder of the state retains a daily bag limit of eight and possession limit of 16.

Dunn noted that recent liberalizations in Canada goose hunting opportunities, along with control programs being implemented by many municipalities and public and private landowners, finally might be stabilizing the growth of the state’s resident Canada goose population.  The 2008 Pennsylvania resident Canada goose population was estimated at 246,500, which is similar to the recent five-year average of 285,250.

“Hunting remains the most effective and efficient way to manage resident Canada geese, provided hunters can gain access to geese in problem areas,” Dunn said.

Pennsylvania’s woodcock season will open Oct. 18, and continue through Nov. 15.  The daily limit is three, and the possession limit is six. 

A season for common snipe will run from Oct. 18 to Nov. 29.  The daily limit is 8, and the possession limit is 16.

Virginia and sora rail hunting will run Sept. 1-Nov. 8.  Bag limits, which are singly or combined, are 3 daily or 6 in possession.  The season for king and clapper rails is closed.

Hunting for moorhen and gallinules will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 9, and the bag limits are three daily and six in possession.

Once again, young Pennsylvania hunters will be provided with a special day of waterfowl hunting on Saturday, Sept. 20.  The Youth Waterfowl Day will be open to those 12- to 15-years-old who hold a junior hunting license. To participate, a youngster must be accompanied by an adult, who may assist the youth in calling, duck identification and other aspects of the hunt.  During this special day-long hunt, youth can harvest ducks, mergansers, coots and moorhens. 

In addition, because the Youth Waterfowl Day and the early Canada goose season overlap this year, youth and the adults accompanying them may harvest Canada geese.  The daily limit for the Youth Waterfowl Day for Canada geese is the same as the daily limit for adults in the area being hunted.  In the Pymatuning Zone, youth can take one goose.  In the Pymatuning State Park Reservoir and an area extending 100 yards inland from the shoreline of the reservoir, excluding the area east of SR 3011 (Hartstown Road), youth also can take the same daily bag limit as adults, three Canada geese.  Additionally in the Pymatuning zone, all of State Game Land 214 is closed for the Canada goose harvest during the Youth Waterfowl Day. 

Youth Waterfowl Day bag limits for ducks, mergansers and coots will be consistent with the limit for the regular season, which will be announced in mid-August, after the annual Waterfowl Symposium on Aug. 8.  The event will begin at 1 p.m., in the auditorium of the Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area visitor center, along Hopeland Road, two miles south of Kleinfeltersville, Lebanon County. Public comments will be accepted at the meeting or by sending a letter to: Pennsylvania Game Commission, Bureau of Wildlife Management, 2001 Elmerton Avenue, Harrisburg, PA 17110-9797; or via e-mail (waterfowlcomments [at] state [dot] pa [dot] us).

Migratory game bird hunters, including those afield for doves and woodcock, are required to obtain and carry a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license ($3 for residents, $6 for nonresidents), as well as a general hunting, combination or lifetime license. All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older also must possess a federal migratory game bird and conservation (duck) stamp.

Roe noted that, although hunting hours have been extended to one-half hour after sunset for big game (except spring gobbler), as well as small game and furbearers, federal regulations prevail for waterfowl and migratory game birds and shooting hours for these species will continue to close at sunset.  The only exception to this is during the early September Canada goose season, in which the USFWS has permitted states to extend the hunting hours to one-half hour after sunset.

Annual migratory bird and waterfowl seasons are selected by states from a framework established by the USFWS.  The Game Commission is expected to announce in mid-August the regular and late waterfowl seasons, after the agency holds its annual Waterfowl Symposium, Aug. 8. 

The “Pennsylvania 2008-09 Guide to Migratory Bird Hunting” brochure will be posted on the Game Commission’s website ( in mid-August, and the mass-produced brochure should be available at U.S. Post Offices in the state by the end of August.

Hunters are encouraged to use a toll-free number (1-800-327-BAND), e-mail address bandreports [at] patuxent [dot] usgs [dot] gov or via the U.S. Geological Survey bird banding website ( to report banded ducks, geese and doves they harvest. Callers will be requested to provide information on where, when and what species of waterfowl were taken, in addition to the band number. This information is crucial to the successful management of waterfowl.