Marion, Ill. — Ups and downs associated with Illinois’ September goose season took a sharp turn toward the positive last year, data provided by the Illinois Natural History Survey suggests.
This while the number of resident giant Canada geese in the state appears to be leveling off.
DNR, which recently released its 2012 waterfowl season dates, is expecting about 15,000 waterfowlers to kick off the two-week early goose season on Sept. 1.
A report by INHS reveals that 14,214 hunters participated in the 2011 season, a 29 percent increase from the 2010 season. An estimated 18,790 Canada geese were harvested last year, which was a 10 percent increase from the 17,115 taken in 2010.
According to the INHS report, 56 percent of the hunters last season were active in the central zone, which also accounted for 58 percent of the harvest (10,874).
Statewide, the number of days afield during the September season increased 26 percent last year – from 39,019 to 49,306.
As for the upcoming waterfowl seasons, they include yet another 60-day duck season in each of the state’s four waterfowl hunting zones, along with regular Canada goose hunting seasons of 90 days in the north and central zones, 83 days in the south central zone and 71 days in the south zone.
DNR is basing this year’s duck and goose seasons on a five-year plan that was developed in 2011 and continues through the 2015 season.
The regular duck, Canada goose, and snow goose seasons open Oct. 20 in the north zone, Oct. 27 in the central zone, Nov. 10 in the south central zone and Nov. 22 in the south zone.
White-fronted goose seasons open Nov. 5 in the north zone, Nov. 19 in the central and south central zones, and Nov. 22 in the south zone.
Teal hunting is open statewide Sept. 8-23.
How the summer’s extreme weather will affect the September goose season – it runs through Sept. 15 – is not known. DNR’s annual helicopter count puts the number of resident giant Canada geese at just over 105,000 – a flattening out after years of growth so rapid that landowners and golf courses in some parts of Illinois were calling for a mass extermination of the geese.
Reasons for the leveling off include an increase in the number of permits granted to remove eggs and nests, and a helpful population of natural predators, including coyotes and foxes.
In the early 1960s, the giant Canada goose did not nest in Illinois. State conservationists launched restoration efforts to bring the geese back to rural parts of western Illinois in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed the state to issue permits to prevent eggs from hatching. The number of permits issued to dispose of eggs rose from 274 in 2003 to about 500 annually over the last 10 years.
For the September goose season, DNR’s 2012 waterfowl regulations call for a daily limit of five and a possession limit of 10 geese in the state’s north and central zones, and a daily limit of two and a possession limit of four geese in the south central and south zones.
Teal hunters will have a daily limit of four and a possession limit of eight. Shooting hours for the teal season are different from the regular season. Shooting hours during the season are from sunrise to sunset.