The NJDEP Division of Fish and Wildlife has again implemented a Conservation Order (CO) in New Jersey for light geese during the winter/spring of 2021. A CO is a special management action that is needed to control certain wildlife populations when traditional management programs are unsuccessful in preventing overabundance of the population. The CO allows an extended time period and additional methods for taking light geese without bag limits.
The CO for light geese is authorized under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act with the intent to reduce and/or stabilize various light goose populations across North America. Negative impacts on wetland habitats have been measured on their breeding, staging and wintering areas. Serious damage to agriculture also occurs in migration and wintering areas. The intent of the light goose CO in Atlantic Flyway states is to reduce and ultimately stabilize the number of greater snow geese to the population objective of 500,000 birds.
Conservation Order Dates: February 16 – April 3, 2021, except Sundays. Light geese may not be pursued on Sundays during this period.
2021 New Jersey Hunting License
2020 Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (NOTE: 2020 stamps are valid until June 30, 2021)
2020 NJ Waterfowl Stamp (NOTE: 2020 stamps are valid until June 30, 2021)
2020-2021 HIP Certification
NJ 2021 Light Goose Conservation Order Permit (Harvest Diary Sheet)
Obtain a CO permit in three ways:
ONLINE: Log in at www.nj.wildlifelicense.com. There is a $2.00 administrative fee. Hunters will be able to print their permit after completing the certification process. Permits are available now and will be available through the duration of the CO.
AT AN AGENT: Permits are available at license agents!
BY MAIL: Hunters who do not have internet access can have a permit mailed to them. To get a CO permit, send the documents listed below to the following address: Light Goose Harvest Survey, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, Mail Code 501-03, P.O. Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420.
Legible photocopy of 2021 Firearm or All-Around Sportsman license which clearly shows the licensee’s Conservation ID Number (CID#) and date of birth
Check or money order for $2.00 payable to the NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
Self-addressed, stamped (50 cents) envelope
Daytime telephone number
Firearms: Shotguns not larger than 10 gauge and capable of holding no more than 7 shells, including magazine and chamber.
Ammunition: Nontoxic shot not to exceed Size T (0.200 inch) only. Nontoxic shot includes steel, bismuth, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-nickel-iron (HEVI-SHOT), tungsten-iron-nickel-tin (TINT), tungsten-bronze and tungsten-tin-bismuth. Possession of lead shot is prohibited.
Electronic Calls Allowed: Yes
Shooting Hours: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset
Daily Bag and Possession Limit: None
Legal Species: Greater snow geese, lesser snow geese, and Ross’s geese.
Prohibited under Federal Regulations: Sale of birds or their plumage; from or by means, aid, or use of a sinkbox; from or by means, aid, or use of any motor vehicle, motor-driven land conveyance, or aircraft of any kind; from or by means of any motorboat or other craft having a motor attached, or any sailboat, unless the motor has been completely shut off and the sails furled, and its progress has ceased; by the use or aid of live birds as decoys; by means or aid of any motor-driven land, water, or air conveyance, or any sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of light geese; by the aid of baiting.
A Summary of Federal Regulations can be found on page 60 of the 2020-21 Hunting and Trapping Digest and at www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/waterfowl_federal_regs.pdf (pdf, 40kb).
Reporting Requirements: Use the diary table as your Light Goose Conservation Order Permit to record activity during the CO. For each day you pursued geese, record the date, county, number of geese you harvested (even if you harvested zero geese), number of geese you knocked down but were unable to retrieve, and number of geese harvested with the first 3 shells in the firearm.
In addition, indicate if any of the geese you took were harvested using special methods including:
1) extra shells allowed in unplugged shotguns,
2) during the extended shooting hours from sunset to 1/2 hour after sunset and/or,
3) electronic calls.
All individuals who obtained a CO permit must complete a harvest survey even if they did not pursue or harvest any geese. Harvest survey results should be reported at www.nj.wildlifelicense.com. After logging in, select “Submit Harvest Information” to enter the harvest data.
Online harvest reporting will be available beginning March 1. Hunters should be sure to wait until they are done hunting for the CO season before reporting because each hunter will only be able to report their harvest in one online session. The harvest survey will ask you to use your diary card to summarize your harvest by time period, by special regulations used, and by county.
Those without internet access can mail their CO diary table to: Light Goose Harvest Survey, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, 2201 Route 631, Woodbine, NJ 08270. All harvest surveys must be mailed by April 30, 2020. Failure to report information may make a hunter ineligible to participate in Conservation Orders in future years.
Tactics for Hunting Light Geese
The Atlantic Flyway Council has prepared a booklet, Successful Hunting Tactics for Greater Snow Geese (pdf, 225kb), that includes hunting tactics to help boost success when hunting light geese. Following a successful hunt, an extensive light goose cookbook can be found in Ducks Unlimited’s Light Goose Recipes.
WHERE TO PURSUE LIGHT GEESE IN NEW JERSEY
Light geese may be found statewide but are most abundant in four primary locations.
First and foremost, Delaware Bay tidal marshes and nearby inland farm fields contain the most light geese. Nearly 100,000 light geese are estimated in these areas during the Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey in early January (see table). Delaware Bay tidal marshes from Goshen Creek in Cape May County to Mannington Meadow in Salem County contain an abundance of public land. The Division administers much of this public land as Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs).
A list of WMAs and maps can be found at www.njfishandwildlife.com/wmaland.htm. Key WMAs for spring light geese include (from south to north): Dennis Creek, Heislerville, Egg Island, Fortescue, Nantuxent, New Sweden, Dix and Mad Horse Creek. Excursions for light geese in these marshes are much more likely to be successful with a dependable powerboat.
Light goose flocks in this region feed, roost and loaf in the tidal marshes yet often make inland field feeding flights primarily into Salem and Cumberland counties. However, at times, these light goose flocks range as far inland as Mullica Hill, Turnersville and Franklinville. Since light geese are renowned for flying great distances between roosting and feeding sites, they are more inconsistent in a given area of agricultural fields on a day to day basis when compared to tidal marshes.