Snow Goose Blog

On this week’s episode of Drake’s Migration Nation we travel to Northwest Missouri to take advantage of the Light Goose Conservation Order.

The Light Goose Conservation Order was originally established in 1999 in response to a study completed in 1997 by the Artic Goose Habitat Working Group (AGHWG). This study indicated that the mid-continent population of light geese (greater snow geese, lesser snow geese and Ross’s geese) was in excess of the carrying capacity of the Arctic tundra these birds call home each summer, resulting in severe damage to the fragile tundra, and subsequent negative impact on its related ecosystem. In an effort to reduce the growth of the mid-continent population of light geese, the USFWS introduced rules giving 24 southern and mid-western states the right to allow hunters to harvest light geese during an extended Spring season.

Initially, the proposal was blocked by the legal wrangling of anti-hunting groups such as the Humane Society of the United States. However, after a few months reason prevailed, and these rules were implemented on an interim basis by the United States Congress as part of the Arctic Tundra Emergency Conservation Act of 1999. This act not only allowed these states to implement a Spring snow goose season with no bag limit after all other waterfowling seasons had ended, but it also gave them the right to allow hunters to harvest geese with electronic calls, unplugged shotguns and up to half an hour after sunset.

In 2008 after reviewing numerous scientific reports confirming the observations of the original AGHWG study, the USFS made these rules permanent, and extended them to a number of Atlantic Flyway states as well.

This late snow goose season not only allows us as hunters to extend our waterfowling opportunities well into the Spring, but it also gives us the chance to help save the Arctic tundra. Since the mid 1970’s the mid-continent population of light geese has increased by over 300%. While this extended season has doubled the harvest rate of light geese since its implementation, snow goose numbers are still at an all time high. Snow geese are denuding the Arctic tundra at alarming rate, and affected areas can take decades to recover. By shooting light geese during this extended season we truly are helping to protect the Migration Nation.