OLYMPIA – Brant goose numbers in Skagit County are high enough to allow a seven-day hunt later this month, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Brant hunting in the county will proceed as scheduled Jan. 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26, and 27 with a daily bag limit of two geese.
The seven-day season was given the green light after nearly 9,200 brant were counted during an aerial survey of Fidalgo, Padilla and Samish bays, said Don Kraege, waterfowl section manager for WDFW. At least 6,000 brant must be counted in Skagit County before hunting is allowed.
“Brant numbers climbed again this year, and the wintering population is back around the long-term average,” Kraege said. “There could be a number of factors for the increase, but it’s most likely due to good production on the breeding grounds.”
Last year, about 6,100 birds returned to Skagit County, about 3,100 fewer birds than the long-term average. About 9,500 brant were counted during aerial surveys in 2006 and about 10,000 the previous year.
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 2008-2009 season.
Hunters who harvest a brant implanted with a radio transmitter should call Kraege at (360) 902-2522. WDFW biologists would like to retrieve the transmitters, which are used 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.