October 21, 1997

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

According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, an estimated 12,460 Canada geese were harvested during the 1997 September season held September 2-30. This total is approximately 15 percent of the state’s estimated 80,000 resident geese.

“Although resident Canada geese are a tremendously valuable wildlife resource, increases in their populations have led to increased crop depredation and nuisance problems in many areas around the state,” said division Director Bob McDowell. “The special September season provides greater relief to farmers and other landowners experiencing such problems.”

This year, New Jersey hunters experienced the longest September Canada goose season in the United States. Long-term scientific research and population monitoring conducted by the division resulted in the information necessary to support a longer hunting season than most other states. Research has indicated that few, if any migrant Canada geese are present in New Jersey before September 30 and that migrants do not being arriving in any substantial numbers until October. As a result, the September season has minimal impact on the migrant Canada goose population, while allowing for increased recreational hunting opportunities on expanding populations of resident Canada geese.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), which is the agency with ultimate management authority for migratory gamebirds, has suspended the traditional Canada goose season throughout the Atlantic Flyway since 1995 in order to protect critically low populations of migrant Canada geese. Even though migrant goose populations have doubled since 1995, their numbers still remain below population objectives. The future outlook for this population is encouraging, however, as migrant geese experienced the best breeding conditions in over a decade during 1997.

While migrant populations have experienced problems, resident goose numbers have increased dramatically from a statewide population of about 50,000 in 1990 to approximately 80,000 in 1997. According to division Waterfowl Ecology and Management Project Lead Biologist Paul Castelli, though the September goose harvest will most likely not reduce the overall resident goose population, it will help to substantially curb the population’s growth rate.

With the regular Canada goose season closed, harvesting expanding populations of resident Canada geese during September plays a major role in managing the population. Special September seasons from 1993 to 1995 ended on September 15 with harvests ranging from 5,000 to 7,800 geese. In 1996 and 1997, the season was extended to September 30 and harvests increased to more than 12,400 geese each year.

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