The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced a restricted, three-day hunting season for brant geese in Skagit County today, while continuing hunts in three other counties where brant counts have been stable.
This year’s brant season in Skagit County will occur on Jan. 12, 16, and 19, based on criteria set by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in April.
Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl section manager, said the reduced schedule was necessary after aerial bird counts conducted in Skagit County indicated numbers fell short of the 6,000 birds required for a full eight-day hunting season for high arctic brant.
Spragens said population surveys conducted over Padilla, Samish, and Fidalgo bays in Skagit County this winter tallied 5,203 birds, triggering this year’s three-day season.
“The number of hunting days is directly related to how many brant are counted during those surveys,” he said. “These low counts require us to prioritize conservation responsibilities for this distinctive, coastal species, while providing harvest opportunity when appropriate.”
Spragens said annual counts in Skagit brant numbers can vary widely, noting that this is the third restricted brant season in the past four years.
Meanwhile, stable populations of brant that do not return to western high arctic breeding regions have allowed for continued hunting opportunities in other parts of the state. The state has again approved a brant season Jan. 12, 16, and 19 in Clallam and Whatcom Counties.
Counts in those two counties have increased in recent years and have remained above the 1,000 brant threshold for the past three years, the state criteria required to consider seasons in these areas.
Also, the traditional 10-day brant season in Pacific County will open Jan. 12, 13, 15, 17, 19, 20, 22, 24, 26 and 27.
WDFW reminds hunters to familiarize themselves with local regulations and boundaries. Specifically, hunters in Clallam County are advised to consult the closed zones of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge (https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Dungeness/visit/rules_and_regulations.html) and hunters in Whatcom County are advised to review boundaries relevant to Bellingham and Lummi Bays (https://www.lummi-nsn.gov/Website.php?PageID=39).
Information on brant seasons is available in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons hunting pamphlet at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/. Brant hunters are reminded they must possess a valid migratory bird authorization and brant harvest report card.