Spring light goose harvest begins

Enormous flocks of snow geese fill the skies each spring in the central United States, including in far western Minnesota, as they migrate toward the Arctic.

The flocks weren’t always so large. More intensive agriculture in decades past gave the birds easier access to food, and eventually an overpopulation of the geese caused considerable damage to fragile ecosystems in Arctic coastal areas and around Hudson Bay.

Hunters have an opportunity to help reduce the population of light geese through a federally authorized spring conservation harvest. This year, light geese harvest runs from Thursday, Feb. 15, through Monday, April 30. Light geese are snow geese, blue-phased snow geese and the smaller Ross’s goose.

“Minnesota participates in the action, but in our region the majority of the light geese take happens west of the state,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. “The harvest in Minnesota has varied from a few hundred to several thousand.”

The conservation action is authorized by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which allows harvest of specific bird species during times when other waterfowl seasons are closed. Minnesota has participated in this spring conservation harvest each year since 2000.

To participate, a spring light goose permit is required and may be obtained wherever Minnesota hunting licenses are sold, via telephone at 888-665-4236 or online at mndnr.gov/buyalicense. There is a $2.50 application fee to cover the cost of issuing the permit. No other license, stamp or permit is required.

A summary of regulations is available at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl/lightgoose, from license vendors, DNR wildlife offices or by calling the DNR Information Center at 888-646-6367 or 651-296-6157.