If you’re counting the months until the next goose hunting season, you should know that you may not be taking as many Canada geese home this winter. Canada goose hunters in the Chesapeake region will be limited to one honker per day per hunter during the 2019–2020 seasons.
These limits apply to the hunting zones frequented by the Atlantic Canada goose population— geese who breed in Northern Canada and migrate south to the Chesapeake— in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia. It does not apply to the states’ other Canada goose hunting zones, like “resident zones” where the geese stay year-round.
“The Atlantic Population (AP) of Canada geese has experienced below average reproduction seven out of the past ten years due to poor weather conditions on their sub-Arctic breeding grounds [on Canada’s Ungava Peninsula],” said Josh Homyack, Maryland DNR’s Waterfowl Program Manager. “Consequently, the number of breeding pairs of AP geese has declined and triggered the need to move into the Atlantic Flyway’s restrictive hunt package to reduce hunter harvest.”
Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources also recently announced its season will be divided into two segments, also called “splits.” The first split runs Dec. 20-Jan. 4, 2020, and second from Jan. 14 to Jan. 31, 2020.
Although hunters do have an impact on the goose population, it is a relatively minor one. Gunners kill about 10 percent of the breeding population in an average year, according to wildfowl managers. By and large, most waterfowlers also have a strong conservation ethic, so, while the action will no doubt impact sport gunners and outfitters, those I spoke with this week said it is essential for the health of the geese population.
Highlights of Maryland’s Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons:
• Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days: Nov. 2, 2019 and Feb. 8, 2020;
• Regular Duck Seasons: Oct. 12-19, Nov. 16-29 and Dec. 16-Jan. 31, 2020. Daily bag limit of six birds, including two canvasbacks.
• Sea ducks in the designated zone: Nov. 2 – Jan.10, 2020.
• Dove seasons: Sept. 2-Oct. 19, Oct. 26-Nov. 29, and Dec. 21-Jan. 10, 2020.
-Capt. Chris Dollar