2016 Early Canada Goose Harvest Again Tops 36,000
For the sixth consecutive year, North Dakota early Canada goose season hunters
bagged more than 36,000 birds, according to a recent harvest estimate released by the
state Game and Fish Department. This is the combined harvest from the August
Canada goose management take, and the September Canada goose hunting season.
While the 2016 harvest is somewhat lower than the peak early season bag in recent
years, Game and Fish migratory game bird management supervisor Mike Szymanski
says it’s still a highly successful season in the department’s effort to reign in the state’s
resident Canada goose population.
Szymanski estimates that approximately 3,600 residents and 1,000 nonresidents who
actually hunted averaged about 10 birds apiece for the combined effort in August and
September, which started Aug. 15 with a “management take.”
The regular early hunting season started Sept. 1 and ran through Sept. 7 in the Missouri
River zone, and through Sept. 15 in the rest of the state. In total, that’s about 18 percent
fewer hunters than participated in 2015, a fact that Szymanski attributes to extensive
late summer movement of Canada geese, which made finding huntable numbers of
birds difficult in many areas.
“This late summer waterfowl movement is something that seems to be more
pronounced in recent years,” Szymanski said. “Birds that were produced in North
Dakota are showing up in Manitoba and Saskatchewan by early September. We don’t
know if it’s related to avoiding hunting pressure or availability of food, as there’s very
little harvested small grain fields for feeding in some areas. It could even relate to the
birds trying to find cooler temperatures during years when we seem to be warmer than
normal in the state.”
Barnes and Ramsey counties had the highest numbers of birds harvested by resident
hunters, while McIntosh and LaMoure counties had the highest number of Canada
geese harvested by nonresident hunters.
The top 10 counties for total harvest were Ramsey, McIntosh, Kidder, Benson,
Stutsman, Barnes, LaMoure, McHenry, Nelson and Ward. Ramsey County had more
than 3,000 birds harvested, while the estimate for Ward County in 10 th place was 1,207.
“We’re seeing a good harvest in the eastern half of the state where there seems to be
the most conflicts between crop producers and geese during the summer,” Szymanski
said. “We need to keep the pressure on to keep our locally breeding Canada goose
population from growing any larger.”
It’s really important for landowners experiencing depredation issues to allow goose
hunters on their property not only during the early season, Szymanski said, but also in
October and November as birds that may have made late-summer movements come
back through the state.
The 2017 early Canada goose season is tentatively slated to start on Aug. 15 again,
with a similar structure as in recent years.