The Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife is once again implementing an annual Snow Goose Conservation Order, which began in 2009 as part of an Atlantic Flyway-wide effort to reduce the population of greater snow geese. Snow goose numbers have reached levels that are now causing extensive damage to their breeding grounds in the Canadian Arctic as well as the wetlands and agricultural areas where they overwinter in the Mid-Atlantic, including Delaware. The 2014 Conservation Order to harvest snow geese will open on Saturday, Feb. 1 and run through Friday, Feb. 7, then will reopen Monday, Feb. 10 and run through Saturday, April 12.
The Conservation Order is a separate season open only for snow geese which occurs after the regular waterfowl hunting seasons close. It was created with the intent of using hunting as a game management tool to reduce and stabilize the greater snow goose population. Last year, an estimated 9,965 snow geese were harvested by more than 700 hunters who participated in Delaware’s Conservation Order.
During the Conservation Order, hunters will be able to pursue snow geese every day except Sunday. Use of unplugged shotguns and electronic calls are allowed, with legal shooting hours starting a half-hour before sunrise and extended to a half-hour after sunset; there are no daily bag and possession limits. All other federal and state hunting regulations apply.
The Conservation Order will be closed on Saturday, February 8, for a special statewide waterfowl hunting day for youths and non-ambulatory disabled hunters. Regular snow goose hunting is also allowed on this day for all legally licensed waterfowl hunters in Delaware, but the special harvest methods described above are not allowed and the regular-season daily bag limit of 25 snow geese will be in effect on this day.
Most state wildlife areas will open to hunting during the Conservation Order beginning Monday, February 3, to avoid conflict with Delaware’s firearm deer seasons. Wildlife areas in New Castle and Sussex counties will be open on a first-come, first-serve basis with no registration required, except at Assawoman Wildlife Area, where hunters must self-register at the Assawoman check station. In Kent County, individual sign-in will be required at Woodland Beach, Little Creek and Ted Harvey wildlife areas. Sign-in will not be required at Blackiston, Milford Neck, or Norman G. Wilder wildlife areas. To avoid conflicts with the spring 2014 wild turkey season, snow goose hunting will be prohibited on state wildlife areas after Friday, April 4. Bombay Hook and Prime Hook national wildlife refuges will be closed to hunting during the Conservation Order.
To participate in the Conservation Order, hunters must obtain a free Snow Goose Conservation Order permit number by registering at https://egov.delaware.gov/HTR. Participants are also required to have a valid Delaware hunting license or a Maryland resident hunting license, a 2013-14 Delaware waterfowl stamp and a Delaware Harvest Information Program (HIP) number, with the HIP available at the website above. A federal waterfowl stamp is not required.
Once registered for the snow goose Conservation Order permit, hunters are required to keep this permit number in their possession while hunting and to report their hunting activity and success to the Division of Fish and Wildlife by Thursday, May 1 via website at https://egov.delaware.gov/HTR; hunters may also report by phone at 302-735-3600. For more information, please call 302-739-9912 or visit www.fw.delaware.gov.