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December 13, 1999

For more information contact:
Ted Nichols at 609-628-3218

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife informs hunters that the winter Canada goose season will be held from Saturday, January 15 to Tuesday, February 15, 2000 in two areas of the state. The two hunting areas are the same as those open during the past three special winter seasons. A special permit is NOT required to participate in the season as in previous years.

"Unlike the September and regular Canada goose seasons which were held statewide, the winter season has distinct boundaries," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Sportsmen and women are reminded to check the hunt area boundaries carefully before hunting. Note that the Canada goose winter season hunt areas are different from the traditional north, south and coastal zones."

New Jersey is home to two populations of Canada geese. One is an Atlantic population of geese that breeds in sub-arctic regions of Canada during summer and travels south to spend winter in mid-latitude areas, including New Jersey. The other is a resident population of geese that live here year-round. While Atlantic population geese have rebounded from the critically low population level observed in 1995, they still remain below management objectives. Resident population Canada geese, however, have caused increased crop depredation and nuisance problems in some areas of the state due to their overabundance. The winter season will help to slow the growth rate of the expanding resident population.

In order to allow full recovery of the Atlantic population of geese, hunting regulations have been relatively restrictive during the traditional fall or "regular" Canada goose hunting season. Special hunting seasons that target resident population Canada geese, however, need not be as restrictive. As a result, a key to managing New Jersey's expanding resident geese is through September and winter seasons.

September seasons are timed to occur before the Atlantic population (AP) of geese arrives during its fall migration. For winter seasons, neckband observations, legband recoveries, body measurements and winter locations of AP geese were carefully analyzed.

The two winter season areas were chosen because they primarily contain resident Canada geese with relatively low proportions of AP geese. The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has set criteria that individual states must meet in order to hold winter seasons. The hunt areas chosen are the only areas of New Jersey where the number of wintering AP geese is relatively small and meets USFWS criteria for winter Canada goose seasons. Unfortunately, the state's central and lower Delaware Valley counties, while containing abundant resident geese, also contain large numbers of AP geese during winter and do not meet USFWS criteria for winter seasons.

"Winter seasons were first held in northern New Jersey in 1995 with a harvest of 840 geese," said Waterfowl Ecology and Management Program Leader Paul Castelli. "Since 1995, the hunt areas have been expanded and the season lengthened to one month. During the 2000 winter season, a harvest of 6,000 geese is estimated, which has been the average harvest for the past three years."

The daily bag limit for this season is five Canada geese per person per day. Hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise to sunset daily. All other pertinent federal and state waterfowl hunting regulations apply. All migratory bird hunters, including winter Canada goose season hunters, are reminded that they must obtain a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number either by calling 1-800-WETLAND, or registering on-line, before hunting. Note that HIP numbers obtained since April 1999 are valid until the end of the hunting season on March 10, 2000.

There are two separate hunt areas for this season. Hunt area descriptions are as follows:

For the north, it is that portion of New Jersey within a continuous line that runs east along the New York State boundary line to the Hudson River; then south along the New York State boundary to its intersection with Route 440 at Perth Amboy; then west on Route 440 to its intersection with Route 287; then west along Route 287 to its intersection with Route 206 in Bedminster (Exit 18); then north along Route 206 to its intersection with Route 94; then west along Route 94 to the toll bridge in Columbia; then north along the Pennsylvania State boundary in the Delaware River to the beginning point.

For the south, it is that portion of New Jersey within a continuous line that runs west from the Atlantic Ocean at Ship Bottom along Route 72 to the Garden State Parkway; then south along the Garden State Parkway to Route 9; then south along Route 9 to Route 542; then west along Route 542 to the Mullica River (at Pleasant Mills); then north (up-stream) along the Mullica River to Route 206; then south along Route 206 to Route 536; then west along Route 536 to Route 322; then west along Route 322 to Route 55; then south along Route 55 to Route 553 (Buck Rd.); then south along Route 553 to Route 40; then east along Route 40 to Route 55; then south along Route 55 to Route 552 (Sherman Ave.); then west along Route 552 to Carmel Rd; then south along Carmel Rd to Route 49; then east along Route 49 to Route 50; then east along Route 50 to Route 9; then south along Route 9 to Route 625 (Sea Isle City Blvd.); then east along Route 625 to the Atlantic Ocean; then north to the beginning point.