Early S.D. goose hunters should see high bird numbers
WATERTOWN -- With the early Canada goose season approaching, Game, Fish and Parks Department officials are predicting excellent hunting throughout eastern South Dakota.
"Hunters should be able to find plenty of birds," said GF&P Region 4 Wildlife Manager Scott Lindgren. "With the water and habitat conditions around the area, geese have had an exceptional year."
While hunting opportunities will be good for hunters, area farmers have additional concerns and challenges with the increased population of resident Canada geese, in particular damage to soybean fields.
"We have had farmers calling our office with depredation complaints," said Lindgren. "We are hoping sportsmen will assist with curtailing future depredation by taking advantage of the early fall Canada goose season."
Lindgren said most of the geese shot in the September season are resident geese and the ones that have been causing depredation on agriculture crops.
"Hunters are the best way to control their population," he said. "By October, northeastern South Dakota begins seeing more migrant Canada geese; they are not the ones causing the depredation."
Hunting early Canada geese is no easy task, however.
"Most of the hunting pressure occurs opening weekend and this can be the most difficult time to get permission to hunt private land," Lindgren said. "Access is much better after the first week and hunting gets very good in the middle of September. Even though we have high numbers of geese in all of northeastern South Dakota, scouting is still the key. Plenty of geese use public hunting areas for resting areas, so they can be good as well."
The GF&P has also added some special waterfowl access areas in Day and Marshall Counties to help waterfowl hunters gain access in high depredation areas. These areas are in the 2009 Walk-In Area Atlas, which will be available this week, or for more information call the Webster GFP office at 345-3381.
Licenses are available for nonresidents for $45, are valid for the entire September season and can be purchased by mail, online at sdgfp.info/licenses.htm, at the Sportsman's Cove in Webster or the Cowboy 2 in Watertown at the junction of highways 212 and 81. Non-residents will also need their federal waterfowl stamp.
Resident hunters need a small game or combination license. In addition, they must have the state Migratory Bird Certification and a federal waterfowl stamp.
"We want to encourage hunters landowners who have encountered goose depredation to utilize hunters in this unique situation," Lindgren said. "This is a great opportunity for hunters to introduce kids and others who are not active goose hunters. If hunters can provide assistance to producers while enjoying the outdoors and the sport of hunting, we see it as a win-win for everyone."
The early Canada goose season runs Sept. 5-30. The daily limit is five birds with a 10-bird possession limit.