Fewer Snow Geese In Texas, Fewer Hunters

Hunter participation in Texas’ post-season conservation order snow goose hunts has plummeted, as the number of birds wintering in Texas … Continued

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Hunter participation in Texas’ post-season conservation order snow goose hunts has plummeted, as the number of birds wintering in Texas has declined dramatically.

From this story in the Houston Chronicle:

During the 2000 snow goose conservation season, almost 28,000 waterfowlers went afield in Texas. They took, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department surveys, a little more than 102,000 geese. The next two years, participation fell a bit, to about 18,400 in 2001 and 21,700. Then things changed, drastically. In the early 2000s, the number of snow geese coming to the Texas coast nose-dived as the birds began a major shift in wintering grounds.

Mid-winter counts from the mid-1970s to late 1990s had tallied 800,000 to as many as 1.2 million snow geese on the Texas coast. By 2002, that number had dropped to barely a half-million. At the same time, wintering populations in states to the north – Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas – were exploding.

Texans’ participation in the conservation season fell with goose numbers. By 2005, Texas’ mid-winter counts estimated 405,000, and fewer than 7,000 waterfowlers hunted during the conservation season. The 2010 season drew fewer than 2,000 participants. This past year, TPWD surveys estimated a record low of only 1,676 hunters chased snows during the conservation season – almost a 95-percent decline in participation over 12 years. The drop in Texans’ participation is blamed on the decline in Texas snow goose numbers, the wariness of adult snow geese and the overblown expectations of goose hunters.

Your thoughts? As most waterfowlers know, the post regular-season light goose conservation order hunt was created to control exploding light goose numbers by allowing hunters to use electronic calls, unplugged shotguns, extended shooting hours and no bag or possession limits. However, even with those allowances snow geese are one of the wariest, most difficult-to-fool birds out there. They’re smart, long-lived, and hunting them requires a substantial investment in time and equipment. How many hunters participate in the conservation order hunt in your state, or have at least tried it? Have any success?