Hunting seasons on the horizon

It’s hard to believe we’re already talking about hunting, but early Canada goose seasons begin Aug. 9 in parts of Minnesota and Aug. 15 across North Dakota.

Early Canada goose seasons begin Aug. 9 in Minnesota (west-central only) and Aug. 15 across North Dakota. Minnesota’s statewide early Canada goose season is Sept. 6-22. (N.D.Game and Fish Department photo)

Minnesota’s August season, which is limited to the west-central part of the state, continues through Aug. 24 and allows hunters to shoot as many as 10 Canada geese per day with no possession limit.

North Dakota’s early season continues through Sept. 15 everywhere but the Missouri River Zone, which closes Sept. 7 to accommodate a late goose hunt in that area. North Dakota’s early season allows hunters to shoot 15 Canada geese daily with a possession limit of 45. Nonresidents looking to hunt the early North Dakota season only need a $50 Canada goose license, which is valid statewide without counting against the 14-day regular season license.

In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources describes the west-central hunt as a “management action.” This will be the second year the DNR has offered the early August hunt. Last year, hunters shot about 25,000 Canada geese during the early August management season.

“The state’s Canada goose population remains high, and more goslings hatched this year than last,” said Steve Cordts, waterfowl specialist for the DNR. “In the western portion of the state, large numbers of Canada geese continue to damage crops. The August management action is one way to control goose numbers.”

Minnesota’s traditional September Canada goose season is set for Sept. 6-22, and the regular Canada goose season tentatively opens Sept. 27. The DNR will announce details of its fall waterfowl seasons in August.

In related news, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department has announced dates for its small game and furbearer seasons. Season dates and limits are as follows:

Crows (fall): Aug. 9-Oct. 26; no limit.

Early Canada goose: Aug. 15-Sept. 15 (Sept. 7 Missouri River Zone); 15 daily, 45 possession.

Mountain lion Zone 1 early: Aug. 29-Nov. 23 (or when zone quota of 14 is reached); season limit of one per hunter.

Mountain lion Zone 1 late: Nov. 24-March 31 (or when zone quota of seven is reached); season limit of 1 per hunter.

Mountain lion Zone 2: Aug. 29-March 31; season limit of one per hunter.

Doves: Sept. 1-Nov. 9; 15 daily, 45 possession.

Hungarian partridge: Sept. 13-Jan. 4; three daily, 12 possession.

Sharp-tailed grouse: Sept. 13-Jan. 4; three daily, 12 possession.

Ruffed grouse: Sept. 13-Jan. 4; three daily, 12 possession.

Tree squirrels: Sept. 13-Jan. 4: four daily, 12 possession.

Sandhill crane Unit 1: Sept. 20-Nov. 16; three daily, nine possession.

Sandhill crane Unit 2: Sept. 20-Nov. 16; two daily, six possession.

Snipe: Sept. 20-Dec. 7; eight daily, 24 possession.

Woodcock: Sept. 27-Nov. 10; three daily, nine possession.

Tundra swan: Oct. 4-Jan. 4; season limit of one per hunter.

Pheasants: Oct. 11-Jan. 4; three daily, 12 possession.

Weasel trapping: Oct. 25-March 15.

Mink, muskrat trapping: Oct. 25-April 30.

Fisher trapping: Nov. 24-Nov. 30; season limit of one per trapper.

What’s with all the Canada geese along U.S. Highway 2?

A co-worker asked me yesterday why she’s seeing so many Canada geese along U.S. Highway 2 when she travels between Grand Forks and Devils Lake.

They’re everywhere, she said, but are especially abundant between Petersburg, N.D., and Devils Lake. She wondered if the big birds were nesting along the highway to protect themselves and their goslings from predators such as coyotes.

Roger Hollevoet, project leader of the Devils Lake Wetland Management District.

I didn’t have an answer, so I called Roger Hollevoet, project leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Devils Lake Wetland Management District. He’s one of my main go-to guys when it comes to wetlands and waterfowl, so I figured he’d have an answer.

Most likely, he said, the geese my co-worker saw weren’t nesting but instead were sub-adults, immature birds not yet old enough to mate. They’re all dressed up — so to speak — with no place to go.

“There’s sub-adults all over the place, and it often takes Canada geese two to three years to actually mate,” Hollevoet said. “You’ve got those 1- to 2-year old birds running around and just loafing everywhere.”

Hollevoet said he saw his first Canada goose brood May 1 at Kellys Slough National Wildlife Refuge west of Grand Forks. Find a marsh with a muskrat hut, Hollevoet said, and there’s probably a Canada goose on top of the mound.

“They’re doing very well this year, and if someone decides to take binoculars and look in a wetland, there’s a good chance they’ll find a nest,” Hollevoet said. “There have been a lot of broods popping out already.”