Snow goose hunters could be affected by new proposals
Just recently in Corpus Christi there was a big public gathering held by Texas Parks and Wildlife in order to discuss the state of snow goose hunting in Texas and in the Central Flyway. Many guides and outfitters along with plenty of recreational hunters attended and participated in the meeting. There were several well known biologists and researchers who had some pretty amazing data that they shared with the folks in attendance. Thanks to very close friend who was at the meeting I got the following list of the high points each researcher brought out for public comment. Read them carefully because there are some amazing statistics.
Rocky Rockwell from the American Museum of Natural History. Rocky’s research deals with La Perouse Bay portion of the Hudson Bay breeding grounds.
• Biologists have fenced small plots of destroyed habitat to determine of regeneration is possible. In the salt marsh recovery begins after 20 years of goose exclusion, in the more inland fresh water areas regeneration begins in 3 years.
• If goose numbers are sufficiently reduced for a long enough time some habitat recovery is possible, however we are currently not killing enough to make a difference.
Ray Alisaukas from the University of Saskatchewan. Ray’s research focused on breeding areas on the northern end of Hudson Bay.
• The goal of the snow goose conservation order was to allow for one million adult snows to be killed each year in the Central Flyway. The best hunters have ever done is 800K. In fact only twice have total kill of adults and juveniles ever been over one million. The conservation order is not having the impacted that people thought it would.
• In the conservation order only 10 percent of the snows killed are in Texas. Most of the birds are being killed in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas.
• Adult snow goose survival before the conservation order was 90%, it is now 84%. The goal for the conservation order was 80 percent or below.
(Dave Morrison from Texas Parks and Wildlife).
• In 1978 the mid winter population of snows on the Texas coast was 1.2 million. The population has declined each year and in 2008 the population was 400K.
• During the same time period the populations in Kansas, Missouri and Arkansas have increased incredibly.
• In 1978 98 percent of the snow geese killed in the Central flyway were from Texas. In 2008 the number had dropped to 40 percent.
• One thought was that the decrease in goose numbers could be attributed to increased hunting pressure brought about by the increased bag (20) and the conservation order. However other mid-continent states have the same bag and conservation order and their wintering population has increased.
• During the same 1978-2008 time period the amount of rice being produced in Texas decreased dramatically. The reduction in goose numbers is directly correlated to the decrease in habitat! Snow geese are finding better habitat in other states and are staying there rather than coming to Texas.
• TPWD feels that while they cant do anything about loss of rice acreage they can reduce the pressure on snow geese and therefore hopefully keep them in areas that we hunt for longer portions of the season. They are currently discussing and will be seeking input from hunters on how to do this. Some suggestions that they are contemplating include:
• Reducing the bag to five. TPWD data shows that 94 percent of all goose hunters kill less than five birds per hunt
• Ending the conservation order. TPWD says that in 1999 27,000 hunters participated in the conservation order and in 2007 only 2,500 people participated
• Reducing the bag during the conservation order to 5 birds
• Making hunting for snows morning only
After the meeting it appears that certainly change is on the horizon for all those hunters who chase snow geese. A reduction in the daily bag seems inevitable and other minor changes surely will follow. I intend to keep a close eye on this subject and will be covering more of the proposed changes as they are presented. The facts surrounding all this research certainly shakes things up for Texas goose hunters, hopefully they will change them for the better.Enter your body text here.