THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced restricted season dates for a January brant goose hunt, after counts of the birds in Skagit County indicated their numbers were below the level needed for a full season.
This year’s brant season in Skagit County will be limited to three days – January 9, 13, and 16 – based on criteria set when the season was adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in August.
“The number of hunting days depends on how many brant are counted during aerial surveys,” said Don Kraege, WDFW’s waterfowl section manager. “Two recent aerial surveys of Padilla, Samish, and Fidalgo bays each had counts of less than 6,000 brant, the number needed for a full season.”
In recent years, a full season has meant eight days of hunting, although bird counts haven’t supported that many days in the field since 2013, Kraege said. Last year, a low count of about 3,600 brant resulted in cancellation of the late-season brant hunt in Skagit County.
Kraege said WDFW brant hunting regulations in Skagit County have been restricted since the 1970s to conserve the limited population of Western High Arctic brant that winter in the area.
The causes of the reduced Skagit brant population are unknown, but may be the result of a shift to southwest Alaska by wintering brant, he said.