Columnist 

Canada geese hunting allowed Sept. 5


All right, you and your buddies have been talking for nearly a year about what “they” ought to do concerning this problem of too many Canada geese.

Why don’t you go shoot some of the things?

A special Canada goose hunting season begins Saturday, Sept. 1, and runs through Saturday, Sept. 15. The hunt is statewide, not just in the areas where the big birds have become so numerous they are nuisances. And the daily limit is five, more generous than the regular season two-a-day.

This is the third year for the special season, a creation of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with federal approval to reduce or keep stable the numbers of the big handsome birds in the state.

The results of the first two years of the special hunt were less than satisfactory. Few hunters participated. Some folks are going out after the Canada geese and are taking some of the birds. That’s good. Officials would like to see more hunters in action.

You may recall with a bit of head shaking the Burns Park brouhaha of less than a year ago. North Little Rock had a problem with too many Canada geese in its big showcase city park. Shooting the birds was proposed, and folks came unglued. Alternate methods were introduced, including a dog harassment ploy. The Burns Park goose headache has been lessened, not eradicated, as we understand it.

When the Game and Fish Commission launched its Canada goose restoration program in 1981, the goal was to bring the birds back to Arkansas and to eventually get the population up to huntable numbers.

It worked. It worked well as far as the numbers, but the downside was hunters have not taken to the idea of going after Canada geese. You may have heard the common refrain among duck chasers – “If it ain’t got a green head, I don’t shoot it.”

This year the special Canada goose hunt opens the same day as dove season.

Yes, you could do a double dip, but be warned about a key element. You cannot carry lead dove loads with you when you go after Canada geese. The rule is steel shot only for migratory waterfowl, and this applies to the Arkansas Canada geese that do not migrate. They are permanent residents.

The rationale for having this special hunt so early is that migrating Canada geese of any subspecies won’t be in Arkansas this early, so the hunting will only be for those resident birds that have become too numerous in spots.

The Arkansas Canada geese are descendants of that restoration started in 1981 that used eggs of the giant subspecies of Canada geese. These came from city parks in the north where overpopulation was a problem – the Burns Parks of Cleveland and Toronto, for example.

Also required for this special hunt are migratory waterfowl hunting stamps, “duck stamps” in everyday language. Also required is Hunter Information Program (HIP) registration, which is free and can be done anywhere hunting licenses are sold and also online at agfc.com. Also required are shotguns plugged to hold no more than three shells.

It may seem strange to go after geese when the temperatures are bumping 100 degrees. Take a cooler with ice. If you kill one or more geese, get them cool as quickly as possible. Field dress them before you take them home or give them away if you harbor the erroneous notion that geese are not good table fare.

To stay legal here, fill out a ”transfer of game” form found in the AGFC’s Hunting Guidebook when you give away geese.

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Joe Mosby is the retired news editor of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and Arkansas’ best known outdoor writer. His work is distributed by the Arkansas News Bureau in Little Rock. He can be reached by e-mail at jhmosby@cyberback.com.