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Indiana experimental February goose season to continue

From the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
 
-- The final year of a three-year experimental hunting season aimed at controlling breeding populations of resident Canada geese around urban areas of Indiana has been authorized for selected counties.

Season dates are Feb. 1-15 in the following counties: Adams, Allen, Boone, Clay, DeKalb, Elkhart, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Huntington, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaGrange, LaPorte, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Noble, Parke, Shelby, St. Joseph, Starke, Steuben, Sullivan, Vermillion, Vigo, Wells and Whitley.

To participate, hunters must have a valid hunting license, Indiana waterfowl stamp, signed federal duck stamp, a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, and a free permit from the DNR. The free permit is available at www.IN.gov/dnr/fishwild/, by phone at (317) 232-4200 or at any state fish and wildlife area, field office, or reservoir during regular business hours in January.

Ordering online allows the customer to print a permit at the time of order and saves postage costs. Hunters can minimize time online by not waiting until the last minute to apply.

DNR waterfowl biologist Adam Phelps said overall response from hunters remains positive, and that adding an online permit application last year helped, as did adding several check stations.

Phelps said nearly 3,000 of the 4,000 hunters who registered for the 2009 special season participated and reported taking an estimated 6,300 Canada geese. The two-year total for the February season is more than 11,000 geese.
 
Hunters must report all harvested geese to a check station. Geese must have the head, a fully feathered wing, and reproductive parts still attached when the bird is checked. Check station staff will age and identify the sex of each bird, and will remove and keep the head of all adult birds checked.

Data collected from these heads are used to help determine if the late season will continue in future years. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service guidelines require that at least 80 percent of the geese harvested during the three-year experimental period must be the giant subspecies of Canada goose – the goose that commonly breeds in Indiana and surrounding states.

“If we remain over 80 percent giants across all three years, we will ask the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to grant operational status to the season,” Phelps said. “This means that birds would no longer need to be checked and no permit would be needed to hunt.”

Even if Indiana meets federal guidelines that qualify for extension, the season may be closed in future years if local Canada goose populations are reduced too much.

The bag limit for the experimental season is five Canada geese per day, with a possession limit of 10. Shooting hours are from a half-hour before sunrise to sunset.

The temporary rule that establishes the late Canada goose season also authorizes a special late season for two light goose species – Ross’ and snow. During the last 30 years, populations of both species have nearly quadrupled, resulting in severe degradation of their breeding grounds. Hunters do not need a Federal duck stamp or HIP number to take snow or Ross’ geese in this special season.

Federal regulations prohibit the Late Canada Goose and Light Goose special seasons being open at the same time.
As a result, the Light Goose season will be Feb. 16 to March 31 in the 30 counties designated for the Late Canada Goose season, and Feb. 1 to March 31 in all other counties.

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