Goose Hunters: You Can Hunt Light Geese Next Spring in Utah

No Gravatar

Duck hunting changes also approved

sNOW gEESE - Photo by Lynn ChamberlainGet ready, Utah goose hunters. You can hunt light geese into March this season.

At their Aug. 28 meeting in Salt Lake City, members of the Utah Wildlife Board approved Utah’s first–ever spring light goose hunt. Light geese include snow, blue and Ross’ geese.

The board also approved some duck hunting changes.

Duck hunting

Scaup and canvasback ducks are struggling a bit this year. To help the birds, members of the board approved two changes:

  • Canvasbacks may not be taken this season.
  • The scaup season has been shortened to 86 days. And the daily scaup bag limit has been dropped to two scaups a day. Utah’s scaup season runs from Oct. 4 to Dec. 28. Scaup may also be taken on Sep. 27, which is Youth Hunting Day in Utah.

Another change the board approved is a new waterfowl shooting time on the opening day of the state’s pheasant hunt. The pheasant hunt opens Nov. 1. Waterfowl shooting on Nov. 1 will begin at 7:29 a.m. In the past, waterfowl hunters could not begin shooting until 8 a.m. on the opening day of the pheasant hunt.

Goose hunting

Utah’s dark-goose season (Canada, cackling and white-fronted geese) will not be affected by the later light-goose season dates.

Goose-hunting dates for the 2008—2009 season are as follows:

Dark geese

  • North Goose Zone: Oct. 4 to Jan. 17.
  • Rest of the state: Oct. 4 to Oct. 16, and Oct. 25 to Jan. 25

Light geese

  • North Goose Zone: Oct. 25 to Jan. 17, and Feb. 18 to Mar. 10
  • Rest of the state: Oct. 13 to Jan. 17, and Mar. 2 to Mar. 10

50,000 light geese

“We don’t see many light geese in the fall, but in the spring, more than 50,000 light geese — most of them snow and Ross’ geese — stop over in Utah,” says Tom Aldrich, migratory game bird coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

“In addition to providing hunters with a unique opportunity, hunting light geese in the spring will reduce the agricultural damage the geese are doing,” he says. “Most of the damage is happening in Box Elder and Millard counties, where the geese are eating grain and alfalfa crops that are just starting to grow.”

In addition to hunting light geese into the early spring, you can also take more light geese this season. Board members raised the daily light-goose bag limit to 10 geese a day. They also raised the number of light geese you can have in your possession at home to 20.

The former limit was four light geese per day and eight in possession.

Mostly private land

Very few light geese use state waterfowl management areas or federal refuges in Utah. But some light geese do visit the Salt Creek, Public Shooting Grounds and Clear Lake waterfowl management areas in the spring. These areas will be open to light goose hunting in February and March.

The remaining waterfowl management areas in Utah — Brown’s Park, Desert Lake, Farmington Bay, Harold Crane, Howard Slough, Locomotive Springs and Ogden Bay — are closed to light goose hunting in February and March.

The three federal refuges in Utah, Bear River, Fish Springs and Ouray, are also closed to light goose hunting in February and March.

“Most of the light geese are on the private land where the crops are being damaged,” Aldrich says. “That’s where the geese feed and rest.

“We have a Walk-In Access program in northern Utah. The program provides hunters with access to private land. We’ll continue working with landowners in Box Elder County to see if we can get more of them enrolled in the program,” Aldrich says.

Helping the geese

In addition to helping Utah’s farmers, the light goose hunt will also help the geese.

In the central part of North America, light goose populations have gotten so large that they’re damaging the areas in Canada where they nest and raise their young.

“The population in the western part of North America hasn’t become overabundant yet, but it’s growing,” Aldrich says. “In December 2007, for example, the population exceeded 1 million birds.

“We want to help stabilize the population before it gets too large. Once the geese become overabundant, it’s hard to bring them back.”