6:00pm: Sportsline with Tony Caridi

Migratory in Name Only


The Canada goose season opens September 1st in West Virginia.   Geese are considered migratory waterfowl, but over time the label has become a misnomer.   The majority of geese in West Virginia aren’t migratory at all.   Goose numbers in West Virginia are skyrocketing to a point they are in many cases becoming problematic. 

Federal wildlife officials and the DNR are coming up short on answers for how to trim those numbers.  

"We have worked with the Fish and Wildlife Service and we have one of the most liberal if not THE MOST liberal goose seasons in existence," said DNR Wildlife Chief Curtis Taylor during a recent address to members of an interim legislative subcommittee. "The only way to take care of the goose problem is through hunting.  They’re just like deer, you’ve got to shoot them."

Golf courses create Utopia for geese with a water source, well groomed grass, and sanctuary from hunters.

However, much like deer, geese have found refuge in safe havens away from hunters.   The groomed turf of a golf course located near a water hazard offers complete sanctuary for the birds.    City parks offer similar haven.  Geese have come to realize the security of a location with abundant food and low risk from hunters.

"Problems with geese are they take up residence in places you can’t’ hunt," Taylor told lawmakers. "That’s why we have a very long season that starts September 1 and the bag limit is very liberal."

Hunting geese in West Virginia isn’t a function of catching the birds on the flyway south for the winter.   Few if any of West Virginia‘s geese are making flight plans for warmer environs at this time of year.  Most are resident and never leave.

The other problem facing wildlife officials is a lack of interest in hunting the birds.   Years ago when deer, turkey and other game were less abundant, the goose offered an ample challenge.   However, competition with archery season for deer has eroded interest.

"We just don’t have that many people who like to hunt geese," Taylor said.

The season opens September 1.  Hunters interested in taking a bird or two need to consult federal as well as state regulations.   There are different rules and license requirements for hunting migratory waterfowl, even those who spend their entire life span in the confines of a few square miles in West Virginia.


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