The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has set a Conservation Order Light Goose Season (COLGS) to allow hunters the opportunity to increase the harvest of light geese. The Conservation Order is authorized by Congress and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help reduce a mid-continent light goose population that is damaging their breeding habitat in the Artic.
The Conservation Order will begin Feb. 12 and will run through April 1, 2001. It removes all daily limits and possession limits on snow, blue and Ross' geese. In addition, hunters will be allowed to use unplugged shotguns and electronic calls. Legal shooting hours will begin 30 minutes before legal sunrise, and end 30 minutes after legal sunset. All other waterfowl regulations, including the mandatory use of federally approved non-toxic shot will remain in effect during the Conservation Order.
"This is a very serious problem for migratory bird management," said Mike O'Meilia, migratory bird biologist for the Department. "We know that if light goose populations are not reduced, they will continue to damage their breeding habitat. The fear is that they can destroy the Artic ecosystem and many of the wildlife species that depend on that habitat."
One breeding area for the mid-continent light goose population is in the coastal lowlands of Hudson Bay. The area is comprised of a very fragile tundra habitat and biologists believe light geese have already degraded the area to the extent that it may not recover in our lifetimes.
"The COLGS is a management action designed to help reduce this goose population to a level that is in balance with their environment," added O'Meilia. "This is a unique situation and hunters are being given the opportunity to play a critical role in its outcome."
Large concentrations of light geese migrate across Oklahoma during the fall and spring. Most of these geese travel across the eastern third of the state. Hunters can participate in the Conservation Order, as concentrations of these geese may stop over in the state to feed and rest until the weather allows them to travel further north.
For more information and regulations on the COLGS, go to the Department's website at www.wildlifedepartment.com or pick up a copy of the 2000-2001 Oklahoma Waterfowl Hunting Guide and Regulations available at license dealers across the state.
Light Goose Hunters: Please Sign Up! Federal law requires the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to estimate the harvest of light geese during the Conservation Order Light Goose Season. Hunters who plan to pursue snow, blue and Ross' geese during the Conservation Order are asked to provide the Department with their name, address and telephone number so a harvest survey can be administered when it ends.
Hunters can sign up by going to the Department's website: www.wildlifedepartment.com and clicking on the Conservation Order Light Goose Season Survey link, or they may mail a letter or postcard to:
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation
P.O. Box 53465
Oklahoma City, OK 73152