Leier: ND geese sightings arrive early
In case you missed it at the time, when temperatures were sub-zero and the countryside was white, North Dakota’s spring light goose season opened Feb. 15 and continues through May 18.
At the same time, while most people probably wouldn’t have anticipated the first sightings of light geese until later in March at least, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department received its first report on March 13. While that first wave is just a trickle, unless we see some real adverse weather the last couple weeks of March, the migration is on.
Here’s a rundown of the 2014 regulations:
Residents can hunt during the spring season by having last fall’s 2013-14 bird licenses. Otherwise, hunters will need to purchase either a 2014-15 combination license; or a small game, and general game and habitat license.
Nonresidents, regardless of age, need a 2014 spring light goose season license. The cost is $50 and the license is good statewide. Nonresidents who hunt the spring season remain eligible to buy a fall season license. The spring season does not count against the 14-day fall hunting season regulation.
A federal duck stamp is not required for either residents or nonresidents.
Licenses are available only from the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office, the department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or by calling 800-406-6409.
Hunters must obtain a new Harvest Information Program registration number before venturing out into the field. The HIP number can be obtained online or by calling 888-634-4798. The HIP number is good for the fall season as well, so spring hunters should save it to record on their fall license.
The Game and Fish Department is providing hunters with migration updates. The reports are available on the department’s website, or by calling 701-328-3697, to receive generalized locations of bird sightings in North Dakota until the season ends or geese have left the state.
Migration reports are updated periodically during the week.
The spring season is only open to light geese — snows, blues, and Ross’s. Species identification is important because white-fronted and Canada geese travel with light geese. The season is closed to whitefronts, Canada geese, swans and all other migratory birds.
Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit. Electronic and recorded calls, as well as shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, may be used to take light geese during this season.
There are no waterfowl rest areas designated for the spring season. Hunters should note that private land within waterfowl rest areas closed last fall may be posted closed to hunting.
Nontoxic shot is required for hunting all light geese statewide. Driving off established roads and trails is strongly discouraged during this hunt because of the likelihood of soft, muddy conditions, and winter wheat that is planted across the state.
To maintain good landowner relations, hunters are advised to seek permission before hunting on private lands or attempting any off-road travel during this season. Sprouted winter wheat is considered an unharvested crop. Therefore, hunting or off-road travel in winter wheat is not legal without landowner permission.
All regular hunting season regulations not addressed above apply to the spring season. For more information on regulations refer to the 2014 Spring Light Goose Hunting Regulations and the 2013 North Dakota Waterfowl Hunting Guide.
Leier is a biologist with the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his blog at dougleier.arevoices.com