Since 2009, the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife has implemented an annual Snow Goose Conservation Order as part of an Atlantic Flyway-wide effort to reduce the population of greater snow geese. Snow goose numbers have reached levels that are now causing extensive damage to their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic as well as the wetlands and agricultural areas where they overwinter in the Mid-Atlantic, including Delaware. The 2013 Conservation Order will open on Monday, Jan. 28 and run through Saturday, April 13.
The Conservation Order is a separate season open only for snow geese which occurs after the regular waterfowl hunting seasons close. It was created with the intent of using hunting as a tool to reduce and stabilize the greater snow goose population. Last year, an estimated 6,400 snow geese were harvested by more than 500 hunters in Delaware that participated in the Conservation Order.
During the Conservation Order, hunters will be able to pursue snow geese every day except Sunday. Use of unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are permitted, with legal shooting hours extended from a half-hour before sunrise to a half-hour after sunset and daily bag and possession limits removed. All other federal and state hunting regulations apply.
Most state wildlife areas will open to hunting during the Conservation Order beginning Monday, Feb. 4, to avoid conflict with Delaware’s firearm deer seasons. Wildlife areas in New Castle and Sussex counties will be open on a first-come, first-serve basis with no registration required, except at Assawoman Wildlife Area. In Kent County, individual sign-in will not be required at Blackiston, Milford Neck, or Norman G. Wilder wildlife areas. Sign-in will be required at Woodland Beach, Little Creek, and Ted Harvey wildlife areas. To avoid conflicts with the spring 2013 wild turkey season, snow goose hunting will be prohibited on state wildlife areas after Friday, April 5, 2013. Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges will be closed to hunting during the Conservation Order.
To participate in the Conservation Order, hunters must obtain a free Snow Goose Conservation Order permit number by registering at www.dnrec.delaware.gov/delhunt. Participants are also required to have a valid Delaware or Maryland hunting license, a 2012-13 Delaware waterfowl stamp and a Delaware Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, available at the website above. A federal waterfowl stamp is not required.
Once registered for the snow goose permit, hunters are required to keep this number in their possession while hunting and to report their hunting activity and success to the Division of Fish and Wildlife via website or phone by Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
For more information, please call 302-739-9912 or visit www.fw.delaware.gov.