Once flocks are located and permission to hunt is obtained from landowners, snow goose season in Pennsylvania can produce some fast-paced hunting that is highly rewarding. When the snows fail to cooperate, however, it can also be highly frustrating.
Again this year, Pennsylvania will have a special Snow Goose Conservation Season to – hopefully help reduce the ever-increasing population of snow geese. This year, this special late season opens Monday and continues through Saturday, April 16, and has a daily limit of 25 and no possession limit.
To be eligible for hunting during the season, in addition to possessing a general hunting license and a Federal Waterfowl Stamp, a free Snow Goose Conservation Permit is required. These permits and report cards can be downloaded off the Pennsylvania Game Commission website at www.pgc.state.pa.us.
Permits and report cards can also be obtained by calling the PGC Bureau of Wildlife Management in Harrisburg at 717-787-4250. This will require mailing the permit and report cards, so expect a minimum of one week for processing and mail delivery to obtain a permit.
Permit holders are required to maintain records specifying hunting activity and daily harvest. All permit holders must submit a report, even if they did not hunt or harvest any birds, to the PGC no later than Tuesday, May 17, and failure to report may result in loss of eligibility to participate in next year's snow goose conservation hunt.
Participating states are required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to monitor and assess hunting activity and harvest. That is why the PGC has created the free Snow Goose Conservation Hunt Permit.
"Snow goose populations have reached levels that are causing extensive and possibly irreversible damage to their, as well as other nesting birds, arctic and sub-arctic breeding grounds," PGC wildlife biologist Kevin Jacobs said. "For some populations of snow geese, their nesting habitats can no longer support these large numbers.
What's more, these geese are beginning to impact fragile coastal marsh habitats and crops in Mid-Atlantic States and Quebec. It's likely that North America has never had as many snow geese as it does now.
"Current populations of greater snow geese that inhabit the Atlantic Flyway is estimated at more than one million birds, more than double the management goal of 500,000. They have become a huge and unexpected problem for themselves and other wildlife that shares the wintering and breeding grounds these waterfowl occupy."
Jacobs said the quickest and probably most effective way for wildlife managers to respond to the problem is to allow additional hunting days and new hunting methods to reduce and stabilize snow goose populations. For that reason, as part of this Snow Goose Conservation Hunt, the PGC board of game commissioners has approved the use of electronic calls and authorized legal shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise until one-half hour after sunset.
Currently, all waterfowl shooting hours close at sundown, except for the September Canada goose season. Also, electronic calls and decoys are illegal for other waterfowl seasons.