|New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife|
For more information contact:
Paul Castelli at 609-748-2047
According to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife, an estimated 12,209 Canada geese were harvested during the 1998 September season held September 1-30.
"Although resident Canada geese are a valuable wildlife resource, increases in their populations have led to increased crop depredation and nuisance problems in many areas around the state," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "The special September season provides relief to farmers and other landowners experiencing problems related to resident geese."
New Jersey is home to two populations of Canada geese; resident birds that live here year-round and migrants that breed in sub-arctic regions of Canada during summer and travel south to spend winter in mid-latitude areas, including New Jersey. While the migrant goose population has rebounded substantially since the regular hunting season closure in 1995, it remains below management objectives despite two consecutive years of excellent reproduction. Resident goose populations, on the other hand, continue to grow, along with goose-related property damage. The special September season helps to curb this expanding resident population.
This year, New Jersey hunters experienced one of the longest September Canada goose seasons in the nation. Long-term scientific research and population monitoring conducted by the Division resulted in the information necessary to support a longer hunting season than most other states.
Research indicates that few migrant Canada geese are present in New Jersey before September 30 and that migrants do not begin arriving in any substantial numbers until October. As a result, the September season has minimal impact on the migrant Canada goose population, while allowing for increased recreational hunting opportunities on expanding populations of resident Canada geese.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is the agency with ultimate management authority for migratory game birds, has suspended the traditional Canada goose season in key migration and wintering areas in the Atlantic Flyway since 1995 to protect the migrant Canada goose population. Even though the migrant goose population has increased since 1995, their numbers still remain below population objectives. In fact, the migrant population is still only half of that observed in 1988, a point when the migrant population was already in serious decline. The future outlook for this population is encouraging, however, as migrant geese experienced the best breeding conditions in over a decade during 1997 and then again in 1998. Despite the regular hunting season closure, special hunting seasons that target resident Canada geese are permitted, and as a result, New Jersey's only alternative to manage expanding resident populations is through special September and winter seasons.
While migrant populations have experienced problems, resident goose numbers have increased dramatically from a statewide population of about 50,000 in 1990 to about 100,000 in 1998. According to Division Waterfowl Biologist Paul Castelli, though the September goose harvest will most likely not reduce the overall resident goose population, it will help to substantially curb the population's growth rate.
With the regular Canada goose season closed, harvesting expanding populations of resident Canada geese during September plays a major role in managing the population. Special September seasons from 1993 to 1995 ended on September 15 with harvests ranging from 5,000 to 7,800 geese. From 1996 through 1998, the season was extended to September 30 and harvests increased to more than 12,200 geese each year.