OLYMPIA – Brant goose numbers in Skagit County are high enough to allow a seven-day hunt later this month, two days longer than last year.
Brant hunting in the county will proceed as scheduled Jan. 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27 and 28, with a daily bag limit of two geese.
The seven-day season, adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in August, was given the green light after nearly 6,100 brant were counted during an aerial survey of Fidalgo, Padilla and Samish bays, said Don Kraege, waterfowl section manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). At least 6,000 brant must be counted in Skagit County before hunting is allowed.
“Numbers of brant are down this year, but expected harvest rates during the seven-day season are still within our management objectives,” said Kraege.
About 9,500 brant were counted during aerial surveys in 2006 and about 10,000 the previous year.
“We’re not sure why the numbers are down this year, but it could be a number of factors, such as poor production on the breeding grounds and possible shifts to other wintering areas,” Kraege said.
Hunters participating in the brant season must have prior written authorization and a harvest information card from WDFW. Hunters need to record their harvest information immediately after taking a brant, and return the completed harvest report to WDFW by Feb. 15. Hunters who fail to return the report by Feb. 15 will be ineligible to hunt brant in the 2007-2008 season.
Hunters who harvest a brant implanted with a radio transmitter should take the bird to the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve or call the reserve at (360) 428-1558. Hunters also can call Kraege at (360) 791-1933, Mike Davison, WDFW wildlife biologist, at (360) 466-4345 ext. 280, or Maynard Axelson, of the Washington Brant Foundation, at (360) 202-0415. WDFW biologists would like to retrieve the transmitters, which allow them to track the migration pattern of the birds.
Hunters who harvest a brant fitted with a colored leg band should also report the leg band’s numbers and color to WDFW. Birds fitted with metal leg bands can be reported by calling 1-800-327-BAND or at http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl. The leg bands help biologists identify and track the birds.
More information on brant-hunting requirements is available in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/wlm/game/water/water.htm.