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HARRISBURG – Early Canada goose and dove hunters take to the fields of Penn’s Woods on Greese_landing Sept. 1, as part of Pennsylvania’s 2012-13 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. The first season runs Sept. 1-29, and hunting will start at noon and close at sunset daily. The second and third splits will be Oct. 27-Nov. 24, and Dec. 26-Jan 5, 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. 25. 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 most of the Southern James Bay Population Goose Zone, and on the Pymatuning 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 the SJBP Goose Zone in 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. 15 and 22, 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. 15 and 22, when regular season regulations apply.

Jacobs noted recent liberalizations in Canada goose hunting opportunities, along with local population control programs being implemented by many municipalities and public and private landowners, appear to be reducing the state’s resident Canada goose population.  The 2010-12, three-year average Pennsylvania spring resident Canada goose population was estimated at 232,820, which is 14 percent below the recent nine-year average of 271,049.  However, the population remains significantly above the agency’s 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 two days of special waterfowl hunting on Saturday, Sept. 15 and 22.  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 these special two days of hunting, 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. 10. 

Pennsylvania’s woodcock and common snipe seasons will open Oct. 13, and continue through Nov. 24.  The woodcock daily limit is three, and the possession limit is six.  The common snipe daily limit is eight, 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 three daily and three 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 the first two weeks of 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 exceptions to this are during the early September Canada goose season and the snow goose conservation 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. 10. 

The “Pennsylvania 2012-13 Guide to Migratory Bird Hunting” brochure will be posted on the Game Commission’s website ( in mid-August, and a news release will be issued and posted in the “News Release” section of the website.

Hunters are encouraged to report recoveries of leg-banded migratory game birds online at, 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.



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