The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced continuing hunts in Pacific, Clallam and Whatcom counties, and a three-day hunting season for brant geese in Skagit County, according to a Monday press release.
Continued stable winter counts of brant have allowed for continued hunting opportunities in Clallam and Whatcom counties Jan. 16, 20, and 23, and in Pacific County on Jan. 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31.
Reduced brant counts in Skagit County mean that hunters will have a limited three-day season on Jan. 16, 20 and 23.
“We conducted aerial brant counts in Skagit County that indicate numbers fell short of our 6,000-bird requirement for an eight-day season,” said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl section manager. “The reduced schedule is necessary to restrict harvest of western high arctic brant, which primarily overwinter in Skagit County.”
Spragens said population surveys conducted in Skagit County over Padilla, Samish and Fidalgo bays tallied 3,430 birds, prompted this year’s three-day season.
The number of hunting days is directly related to how many brant the WDFW count during these surveys, which allows it to monitor the winter population, he said. This is the fourth consecutive year of fewer than 6,000 brant in Skagit County bays.
“While we strive to provide a harvest opportunity when appropriate, these types of historically low counts require us to prioritize our conservation responsibilities for this iconic coastal waterfowl species,” Spragens said.
The press release stated hunters should familiarize themselves with local regulations and boundaries. Specifically, hunters in Clallam County are advised to consult the closed zones of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, and hunters in Whatcom County are advised to review boundaries relevant to Bellingham and Lummi bays.
Information on brant seasons is available in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons hunting pamphlet. Brant hunters must possess a valid migratory bird authorization and brant harvest report card.