THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced a restricted three-day hunting season for brant geese in Skagit County, but has revived hunts in two other counties where brant counts have been increasing.
This year’s brant season in Skagit County will occur on Jan. 6, 10, and 13, based on criteria set when the season was adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in April.
Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl section manager, said the restrictions were scheduled after aerial bird counts conducted in Skagit County indicated numbers fell short of the 6,000 birds required for a full eight-day hunting season for high arctic brant.
Spragens said surveys conducted over Padilla, Samish, and Fidalgo bays tallied 3,044 birds, then 4,793 birds, triggering this year’s three-day season.
“The number of hunting days is directly related to how many brant are counted during those surveys,” he said. “These low counts require us to prioritize conservation responsibilities for this distinctive, coastal species, while providing harvest opportunity when appropriate.”
Spragens said annual counts in Skagit brant numbers can vary widely, noting that this is the second restricted brant season in the past three years.
Meanwhile, stable populations of brant that do not return to western high arctic breeding regions have allowed for new hunting opportunities in other parts of the state. For the first time in decades, brant hunting will open in Clallam and Whatcom counties.
This year’s brant season in Clallam and Whatcom counties will occur on Jan. 6, 10, and 13. Counts in those two counties have increased in recent years and have remained above the 1,000 brant threshold for the past three years, the state criteria required to consider seasons in each area.
Also, the traditional 10-day brant season in Pacific County will open Jan. 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 21.
WDFW reminds hunters to familiarize themselves with local regulations and boundaries. Specifically, hunters in Clallam County are advised to consult the closed zones of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Dungeness/visit/rules_and_regulations.html) and hunters in Whatcom County are advised to review boundaries relevant to Bellingham and Lummi Bays (https://www.lummi-nsn.gov/Website.php?PageID=39).
Information on brant seasons is available in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/. Brant hunters are reminded they must possess a valid migratory bird authorization and brant harvest report card.