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Canada Geese in Back Bay: 

Canada Geese in Back Bay Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries Dr. Gary Costanzo Tom Bidrowski

Canada Geese in Back Bay: 

Canada Geese in Back Bay Historic Accounts – populations, seasons Goose population concerns Management Activities/Concerns Reopening a hunting season - MOA Hunting season evaluation – feather collection process

Historic Accounts: 

Historic Accounts


History of Back Bay Canada Goose Hunting Year Days Bag Area Rest of VA 1950’s-67 50-70 ~2 statewide (flyway –wide) same 1968 -76 50 1 Back Bay (FL GA SC NC) 70/2-3 1977 – 84 50 1 VA Beach & Chesapeake 70/3 (FL GA closed) (goose zones) 1985 – 87 35/50 1 BB/VA Beach & Chesapeake 70/3 (SC closed) 11 1 VA Beach & Chesapeake 60/2 Closed BB/VA Beach and Chesapeake 60/2 (NC closed in 1992)


Recent History of Canada Goose Seasons Year Back Bay VA (Atlantic Population) 1989-94 Closed (89-04) 60 days, 2 or 1 goose 1995-98 “ Season closed flyway-wide 1999 “ Reopened, 6 days/1 goose [VA Beach-Ches. opened, 6/1] 2000-04 “ Season liberalized gradually from 6 to 45 days and 1-2 birds


Atlantic Population Canada Goose breeding population estimates 1993 - 2005 AP season closed


Numbers of Canada geese counted on the MWI in Back Bay, 1954 – 2006.


Migrant Goose Population Summary Shift in wintering distribution. General population decline in late 1980’s - early 1990’s. Population recovered in most of VA and northern AF. Migrant geese continue to decline in South – FL, GA, SC, NC.


Back Bay Goose Population Concerns No recovery of migrant goose number in Back Bay Habitat and landscape level changes in Back Bay and VA Beach not conducive to migrant Canada goose recovery. Suburban Beach Agricultural Encroachment Development Shift


Back Bay Goose Concerns (continued) All available information (surveys, neck-collar studies, band recovery data) indicate very few migrant geese left in Back Bay area. Nearly all geese harvested in VA Beach and Chesapeake (reopened in 1999) appear to be resident geese and few/no migrant geese taken.


Resident Goose Population Concerns Resident geese increasing in Back Bay/VA Beach. Human health and safety concerns have resulted in a number of goose round-ups (removals) the past several years. Concerns about; Nuisance issues, water quality Air strikes – Commercial, private, military Agricultural and wetland plant depredation Public requests to reopen a hunting season.


Monitoring Activities Long-term population surveys Leg-banded ~400 geese per year during the past 4 years (1,600) Neck collar observations Additional goose surveys 3 times/yr – Sept., Nov., Jan. - Providing information on pop. size, movements, harvest, survival.


Management Actions Maintained hunting season closure for 16 years. Research and monitoring programs to evaluate goose population trends and affiliation. Habitat development and enhancement activities. Re-opened a limited hunting season this year.


Purpose/Justification for re-opening limited season Resident goose population increasing. Provide some opportunities for goose hunting on Back Bay. Few migrant geese remain, however, still some questions about goose population affiliation (migrants or “foreign” residents) A limited season will provide some hunting opportunity and provide data on harvested birds to determine pop. affiliation. Recent Action VDGIF submitted proposals to the Atlantic Flyway Council and USFWS the past several years to reopen a “limited” hunting season on Back Bay. Experimental Season approved in August 2005. NC also granted an experimental season.

Experimental Season Criteria:: 

Experimental Season Criteria: MOA between VA and USFWS specifies: 3-Year Experimental Season: 15 days, 1 goose/day to be held during last 15 days of AP goose season. State must evaluate size and composition of harvest. Harvest estimate: hunter reports and field bag checks Harvest Composition: DNA feather analysis NC: state to issue 500 permits (via lottery) VA: permit system not required but feather collection mandatory (no lottery – everyone can participate) States to prepare reports after each season and final report after 3-yr period. Decision to modify season (liberalize, restrict) after 3-yr experiment.


2005-06 Seasons Virginia Back Bay and Tributaries (Experimental) January 12 – 28, 2006 15 days, 1 goose per day Atlantic Population (includes remainder of VA Beach and Ches.) Nov. 19 – Dec. 3 Dec. 23 – Jan. 28 45 days, 2 geese per day North Carolina NE Hunt Unit (Experimental) January 14 – 31, 2006 15 days, 1 goose per season (500 permits issued)


Area closed to hunting NWR Areas in managed hunts The waters of Back Bay and its tributaries and the marshes adjacent thereto, and on the land and marshes between Back Bay and the Atlantic Ocean from Sandbridge to the North Carolina line, and on and along the shores of North Landing River and the marshes adjacent thereto, and on and along the shores of Binson Inlet Lake (formerly known as Lake Tecumseh) and Red Wing Lake and the marshes adjacent thereto.


Coordination and Notification efforts: Information in Regulation Pamphlets Provided letter in Princess Anne WMA hunt information. Contacted local interest groups Posted notices and held public meeting. Conducted hunter bag checks on water and at boat ramps. Provided envelopes and drop boxes at Princess Anne WMA.


Feather collection Process: 1. Pull (do not cut) 2 central tail & 3 outer primary feathers 2. Complete separate data form for each goose, include in envelope. 3. Mail or place in drop box.


Back Bay Canada Goose Feather Collection Pull (do not cut) the outer 3 wing feathers and the 2 inner most tail feathers. Complete this form and place with the feathers in the envelope. Please use separate form/envelope for each goose. Place envelope in drop box or mail to address below. Date Harvested: _______________________ Please Circle the general location the bird was harvested North Bay Shipps Bay Redhead Bay Sand Bay Cedar Island Trojan Marsh Pocahontas Marsh Knotts Island Horse/ Ball Islands False Cape State Park Other:_____________ Where you hunting from a: ○ Stationary ○ Floating Was the bird banded ○ Yes ○ No Band Number: ________________________ Please also report all banding birds to the Bird Banding Laboratory 1-800-327-BAND If you would like future information on this study or if we can contact you for additional information, please provide your name, address and phone number below. Name: ___________________________________________ Address: _________________________________________ Phone: _______________________________ ___________ Additional Comments (number of geese seen, location of where the goose was harvested, blind/stake number, and any other comments you would like to provide. Use back if necessary): ________________________________________________________________________________________ Please address any questions to: Wildlife Division, 5806 Mooretown Rd Williamsburg, VA 23188, Phone (757) 253-7072, or email FOR INTERAL USE ONLY Sample ID: Collected By :


-Draft Proposal-


Preliminary Results for 2005-06 Relatively few geese counted on Back Bay Mild weather conditions in January Only ~15 geese taken in BB hunt zone NC: 72 geese reported from 214 permittees Feather analysis results and preliminary report by late June.


Future Direction Continue monitoring programs. Consider modifications to season structure in relation to sampling considerations. Use standard and new technology to better identify population affiliations and refine goose management.

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