Through April 15: Snow goose season is open

In the event you weren’t aware of it, the snow goose season is open and will remain so through April 15. Snow goose populations have skyrocketed in recent years and the Department of Environmental Conservation is hoping hunters can reduce it at least a bit.

According to the DEC, the expanded special season will increase opportunity to harvest snow geese throughout the winter and early spring, when they are most abundant here in New York. The special season was established in 2008 to help reduce environmental damage caused by the overabundance of snow geese in eastern North America.

Snow geese are an arctic-breeding goose that reached record high population levels in North America in recent years, from approximately 50,000 birds in the 1960s to more than one million in recent years.

Wildlife agencies, ecologists and environmental organizations have expressed concern about the impacts that overabundant snow geese are having on arctic ecosystems, coastal wetlands and agricultural crops. In response, federal hunting regulations were liberalized in 2008, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service adopted a conservation order allowing states in the Atlantic Flyway to implement special snow goose harvest programs in addition to regular hunting seasons.

25 PER DAY

The special, extended season includes a bag limit of 25 snow geese per day. Hunters are allowed to use electronic calls and unplugged guns — shotguns capable of holding more than three shells — when no co-occurring open season exists for other migratory waterfowl. The special program does not include Long Island, because relatively few snow geese occur in that region during spring.

Snow geese are sporadic visitors to this area - their primary flyway is a bit west of here - but they do come through annually. Normally, snow goose hunting is a pleasant by-product of Canada goose hunting but occasionally, this year included, they come through in larger numbers and offer an excellent and exciting hunting opportunity on their own.

HEN TURKEY STUDY

The DEC has commenced a new research project on wild turkey survival that it is hoped will improve the management of this popular game bird. According to the agency, the data will provide valuable information on turkey survival rates and population size to help guide future management of this species.

Over the past 10 years or so wild turkey populations have declined in many parts of the state. In an effort to better understand the factors influencing these changes, DEC is embarking on this four-year study that will provide wildlife managers with current estimates of harvest and survival rates for hen turkeys.

DEC staffers launched a statewide effort last month to capture wild turkey hens and attach leg bands to them obtain the required data. A small number of these birds will also be tagged with satellite radio transmitters.

These studies will be done on both public and private lands from January through March, primarily in DEC regions 3 through 9, where turkey populations are highest.

LANDOWNERS NEEDED

From 2006 through 2009 the agency worked with landowners across the state to assess harvest and survival rates of tom turkeys. With that project completed, the agency is looking for landowners in the above regions who are interested in allowing birds to be trapped on their land, as well as those interested in alerting project coordinators when they see turkeys on their property on a regular basis. Once turkeys are trapped and banded, they will be immediately released, unharmed, at the same location. This is not a “trap and transfer” program, so there will be no loss of birds on anyone’s property.