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Doug Leier, Published March 12 2013

Leier: Some things to keep in mind about spring goose season

Fargo - In the spring of 1999, I was working as a game warden in the Cass County area when the first-ever spring light goose conservation season arrived.

While the opening of the first season was unique, to be honest I don’t remember much about it. From a game warden’s perspective, that’s usually a good sign. Often the most memorable events involve violations or complaints.

I do remember seeing massive waves of geese in eastern North Dakota, where the birds were trying to consume enough food during their migration to prepare them for spring nesting.

As for 2013, it’s difficult to predict how the migration will develop.

We do know that:

The season opened Feb. 16 and it continues through May 5. Exactly when and where the birds will lead hunters depends largely on when the snow melts.

Hunters can purchase a license online at the state Game and Fish Department’s website.

Residents can hunt during the spring season by having last fall’s 2012-13 bird licenses. Otherwise, hunters will need to purchase either a 2013-14 combination license; or a small game, and general game and habitat license.

Nonresidents, regardless of age, need a 2013 spring light goose season license. The cost is $50 and the license is good statewide. Nonresidents who hunt the spring season remain eligible to buy a fall season license. The spring season does not count against the 14-day fall hunting season regulation.

A federal duck stamp is not required for either residents or nonresidents.

Licenses are available only from the Game and Fish Department’s Bismarck office, the department’s website at gf.nd.gov, or by calling (800) 406-6409.

Hunters must obtain a new Harvest Information Program registration number before venturing out into the field. The HIP number can be obtained online or by calling (888) 634-4798. The HIP number is good for the fall season as well, so spring hunters should save it to record on their fall license.

The Game and Fish Department started providing migration updates on March 6. The updates are available on the department’s website, or as a recorded phone message at (701) 328-3697. Migration report will be updated periodically during the week until the season ends or geese have left the state.

The spring season is only open to light geese – snows, blues, and Ross’s. Species identification is important because white-fronted and Canada geese travel with light geese. The season is closed to whitefronts, Canada geese, swans and all other migratory birds.

Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. There is no daily bag limit or possession limit. Electronic and recorded calls, as well as shotguns capable of holding more than three shells, may be used to take light geese during this season.

There are no waterfowl rest areas designated for the spring season. Hunters should note that private land within waterfowl rest areas closed last fall may be posted closed to hunting.

Leier, a biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in West Fargo, can be reached at dleier@nd.gov

Leier’s blog can be found online

at www.areavoices.com