HARRISBURG – Early Canada goose and dove hunters will be able to take to the fields of
Penn’s Woods on Sept. 1, as part of Pennsylvania’s 2011-12 migratory bird seasons announced today by Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe.
Dove hunters will have the opportunity to participate in a triple-split season, which will see some shifts due to the way the calendar falls this year. During the first season (Sept. 1-Oct. 1), hunting will start at noon and close at sunset daily. The second and third splits will be Oct. 29-Nov. 26, and Dec. 26-Jan 4, with hunting hours a half-hour before sunrise until sunset. In all three seasons, the daily bag limit will be 15, and the possession limit will be 30.
The early statewide season for resident Canada geese will open Sept. 1, and continue through Sept. 24. The early season retains a daily bag limit of eight Canada geese and possession limit of 16. However, Kevin Jacobs, agency waterfowl biologist, noted that these bag limits are restricted in certain areas.
In the Southern James Bay Population Canada goose Zone, and on the Pymatuning State Park Reservoir and the area extending 100 yards inland from the shoreline of the reservoir, excluding the area east of SR 3011 (Hartstown Road), hunters will have a daily limit of three and a possession limit of six.
Also, in a portion of western Crawford County, the daily bag limit is one goose and possession limit of two geese in the area south of SR 198 from the Ohio state line to intersection of SR 18, SR 18 south to SR 618, SR 618 south to US Route 6, US Route 6 east to US Route 322/SR 18, US Route 322/SR 18 west to intersection of SR 3013, SR 3013 south to the Crawford/Mercer County line. The exception to this is on State Game Land 214, where September goose hunting is closed. This restriction does not apply to youth participating in the expanded youth waterfowl hunting days, which are set for Sept. 17 and 24, when regular season regulations apply.
The controlled hunting areas at the Game Commission’s Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area in Lebanon-Lancaster counties, as well as all of State Game Land 46, will remain closed to September goose hunting to address the decline in the resident Canada goose flock. And, in the area of Lancaster and Lebanon counties north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike I-76, east of SR 501 to SR 419, south of SR 419 to Lebanon-Berks county line, west of Lebanon-Berks county line and Lancaster-Berks county line to SR 1053 (also known as Peartown Road and Greenville Road), west of SR 1053 to Pennsylvania Turnpike I-76, the daily bag limit is one goose, possession limit two geese. This restriction does not apply to youth participating in the youth waterfowl hunting days, which are set for Sept. 17 and 24, when regular season regulations apply.
Jacobs noted that recent liberalizations in Canada goose hunting opportunities, along with control programs being implemented by many municipalities and public and private landowners, appear to be stabilizing the growth of the state’s resident Canada goose population. The 2011 Pennsylvania spring resident Canada goose population was estimated at 245,100, which is statistically similar to the recent eight-year average of 274,300. However, populations remain significantly above the management goal of 150,000.
“Hunting remains the most effective and efficient way to manage resident Canada geese, provided hunters can gain access to geese in problem areas,” Jacobs said.
As noted, young Pennsylvania hunters will be provided with an extra day of waterfowl hunting on Saturday, Sept. 17 and 24. The Youth Waterfowl Days, which previously were limited to one day, are open to those 12- to 15-years-old who hold a junior hunting license. To participate, a youngster must be accompanied by an adult, who may assist the youth in calling, duck identification and other aspects of the hunt. During this special two day-long hunts, youth can harvest ducks, mergansers, coots and moorhens.
In addition, because the Youth Waterfowl Days and the early Canada goose season overlap this year, youth and the adults accompanying them may harvest Canada geese. The daily limit for the Youth Waterfowl Days for Canada geese is the same as the daily limit for adults in the area being hunted.
Youth Waterfowl Days bag limits for ducks, mergansers and coots will be consistent with the limit for the regular season, which will be announced in mid-August, after the annual Waterfowl Symposium on Aug. 5.
Pennsylvania’s woodcock season also has been expanded an extra two weeks. This year, woodcock season will open Oct. 15, and continue through Nov. 26. The daily limit remains three, and the possession limit is six.
A season for common snipe will run from Oct. 15 to Nov. 26, which is the same structure as previous years. The daily limit is 8, and the possession limit is 16.
Virginia and sora rail hunting will run Sept. 1-Nov. 9. Bag limits, which are singly or combined, are 3 daily or 6 in possession. The season for king and clapper rails remains closed.
Hunting for moorhen and gallinules will run from Sept. 1 to Nov. 9, and the bag limits are three daily and six in possession.
Migratory game bird hunters, including those afield for doves and woodcock, are required to obtain and carry a Pennsylvania migratory game bird license ($3.70 for residents, $6.70 for nonresidents), as well as a general hunting, combination or lifetime license. All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older also must possess a federal migratory game bird and conservation (duck) stamp.
Roe noted that, although general hunting hours have been extended to one-half hour after sunset for big game (except spring gobbler), as well as small game and furbearers, federal regulations prevail for waterfowl and migratory game birds and shooting hours for these species will continue to close at sunset. The only exception to this is during the early September Canada goose season, in which the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has permitted states to extend the hunting hours to one-half hour after sunset.
Annual migratory bird and waterfowl seasons are selected by states from a framework established by the USFWS. The Game Commission is expected to announce in mid-August the regular and late waterfowl seasons, after the agency holds its annual Waterfowl Symposium, Aug. 5.
The “Pennsylvania 2011-12 Guide to Migratory Bird Hunting” brochure will be posted on the Game Commission’s website (www.pgc.state.pa.us) in mid-August, and the mass-produced brochure should be available at U.S. Post Offices in the state by the end of August.
Hunters are encouraged to report leg-banded migratory game bird recoveries online atwww.reportband.gov, or use the toll-free number (1-800-327-BAND). Hunters will be requested to provide information on where, when and what species were taken, in addition to the band number. This information is crucial to the successful management of migratory game birds.