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December 19, 2000

JANUARY 15 - FEBRUARY 15, 2001

For more information contact:
Paul Castelli at 609-748-2047

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife informs hunters that the Special Winter Canada Goose Season will be held from Monday, January 15 to Thursday, February 15, in two specific areas of the state. A special permit is NOT required to participate and goose hunters should note that the winter season hunt area boundaries are different from the traditional north, south and coastal zones.

"Unlike the September and regular Canada goose seasons which were held statewide, the winter season has distinct boundaries," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Hunters should check the boundaries carefully before hunting."

The boundaries for the northern portion of the hunt area are the same as those open during the past four special winter seasons. The southern portion of the hunt area has been expanded to include additional parts of Cumberland County as well as portions of the Pinelands in Ocean and Burlington counties.

"For the 2001 Special Winter Canada Goose Season, the southern hunt area boundary has been expanded to include a portion of the Maurice River where resident Canada geese have caused significant damage to wild rice marshes," McDowell added. "In addition, major cranberry growing areas of the Pinelands were included where farmers have been experiencing increasing amounts of damage from resident Canada geese."

New Jersey is home to two populations of Canada geese. Atlantic Population or migrant geese breed in sub-arctic regions of Canada during summer and travel south to spend winter in mid-latitude areas, including New Jersey. The second population is resident Canada geese that live here year-round. While Atlantic Population geese have rebounded substantially from the critically low population level observed in 1995, they still remain below management objectives. Resident Canada geese, though a tremendously valuable wildlife resource, have caused increased crop depredation and nuisance problems in some areas of the state due to their overabundance. The winter season will help to slow the growth rate of the expanding resident population.

In order to allow full recovery of Atlantic Population geese, hunting regulations have been relatively restrictive during the traditional fall or "regular" Canada goose hunting season. However, special hunting seasons that target Resident Population Canada geese need not be as restrictive. As a result, a key to managing New Jersey's expanding resident goose population is through September and winter seasons.

September seasons are timed to occur before Atlantic Population geese arrive in their fall migration. To determine winter seasons, neckband observations, legband recoveries, body measurements and winter locations of satellite-telemetry-marked Atlantic Population geese are carefully analyzed.

The two winter season areas were chosen because they primarily contain resident Canada geese with relatively low proportions of Atlantic Population geese. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has set criteria that individual states must meet in order to hold winter seasons. The hunt areas chosen are the only areas of New Jersey where the number of wintering Atlantic Population geese is relatively small and thereby meets USFWS criteria for winter Canada goose seasons. Unfortunately, the state's central counties and lower Delaware Valley counties, while containing abundant resident geese, also contain large numbers of Atlantic Population geese during winter and do not meet USFWS criteria for winter seasons.

"Winter seasons were first held in northern New Jersey in 1995 with a harvest of 840 geese," said Waterfowl Ecology and Management Program Leader Paul Castelli. "Since 1995, the hunt areas have been expanded and the season lengthened to one month. We anticipate a harvest of about 7,000 geese during the 2001 special winter season."

The daily bag limit for this season is five Canada geese per person per day. Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily. All other pertinent federal and state waterfowl hunting regulations apply. All migratory bird hunters, including special winter Canada goose season hunters, are reminded that they must obtain a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number by calling 1-800-WETLAND before hunting. The number can also be obtained via an Internet Website. Note that HIP numbers obtained since April 2000 are valid until the end of the hunting season on March 10, 2001.

There are two separate hunt areas for this season. Hunt area descriptions are as follows:

For the north, it is that portion of New Jersey within a continuous line that runs east along the New York State boundary line to the Hudson River; then south along the New York State boundary to its intersection with Route 440 at Perth Amboy; then west on Route 440 to its intersection with Route 287; then west along Route 287 to its intersection with Route 206 in Bedminster (Exit 18); then north along Route 206 to its intersection with Route 94; then west along Route 94 to the toll bridge in Columbia; then north along the Pennsylvania State boundary in the Delaware River to the beginning point.

For the south, it is that portion of New Jersey within a continuous line that runs west from the Atlantic Ocean at Ship Bottom along Route 72 to the Garden State Parkway; then south along the Garden State Parkway to Route 9; then south along Route 9 to Route 542; then west along Route 542 to the Mullica River (at Pleasant Mills); then north (up-stream) along the Mullica River to Route 206; then south along Route 206 to Route 536; then west along Route 536 to Route 322; then west along Route 322 to Route 55; then south along Route 55 to Route 553 (Buck Rd.); then south along Route 553 to Route 40; then east along Route 40 to Route 55; then south along Route 55 to Route 552 (Sherman Ave.); then west along Route 552 to Carmel Rd; then south along Carmel Rd to Route 49; then east along Route 49 to Route 555; then south along Route 555 to Route 553; then east along Route 553 to Route 649; then north along Route 649 to Route 670; then east along Route 670 to Route 47; then north along Route 47 to Route 548; then east along Route 548 to Route 49; then east along Route 49 to Route 50; then east along Route 50 to Route 9; then south along Route 9 to Route 625 (Sea Isle City Blvd.); then east along Route 625 to the Atlantic Ocean; then north to the beginning point.

Click for map of the 2001 Special Winter Canada Goose Season hunting areas.