OLYMPIA – Brant goose numbers in Skagit County are high enough to allow an eight-day hunt later this month, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Brant hunting is scheduled Jan. 16, 17, 20, 23, 24, 27, 30 and 31 with a bag limit of two geese per day.
The hunting season was adopted after 6,002 brant were counted Thursday 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.
“Numbers of brant wintering in Skagit County are down this year, but expected harvest rates during the eight-day season are still within our management objectives,” said Kraege.
Last year, WDFW wildlife biologists counted about 16,200 brant – the largest count in 14 years. About 9,200 brant, which is slightly above the long-term average, were counted during aerial surveys in 2008 and about 6,100 the previous year.
“The drop in the number of birds in Skagit County from last year is likely the result of a shift in winter distribution,” Kraege said. “Significant numbers of brant have been seen elsewhere in northern Puget Sound, including nearby Whatcom County, where we counted an additional 4,000 birds during the aerial survey.”
To participate in the Skagit County brant season, hunters must have prior written authorization and a harvest information card from WDFW. After taking a brant, hunters are required to record their harvest information immediately, and report their harvest to WDFW by Feb. 15. Hunters who fail to report by Feb. 15 will be ineligible to hunt brant in the 2010-2011 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.