Harvest of Emperor Geese proposed for first time in 30 years

File Photo

by the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council

Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council authors first-ever plan developed cooperatively to manage the subsistence harvest of emperor geese.

Following decades of conservation, proposed regulations for the 2017 spring/summer subsistence migratory bird season include opening a harvest for emperor geese. Subsistence harvest of emperor geese was closed in 1987.

In 2015, the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council (Council) recommended opening an emperor goose subsistence season after the population reached a threshold to allow the consideration of harvest. The Council then wrote a new management plan for emperor geese to set the foundation for opening a season, including implementing a survey to improve monitoring the population on its primary breeding grounds, the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and a harvest strategy that includes potential harvest restrictions and hunting closures.

The Council-authored management plan is the first of its kind, developed cooperatively for management of a migratory bird population of Alaska. The Council agreed to adopt the plan for an initial 3-year trial period (2017-19) to allow careful evaluation of the emperor goose population response to harvest.

“The Council would like to thank the people of Alaska who traditionally harvest emperor geese for their sacrifice. Many contributed their traditional ecological knowledge and allowed for the self-renewal of emperor geese through generations,” said Gayla Hoseth, 2016 Council Chair and Bristol Bay Native Association representative. “We are excited that eligible Alaskans will be able to harvest emperor geese once again. We would also like to remind everyone that the emperor goose is still a sensitive population and the effort to conserve these birds will need to continue into the future.”

The plan establishes guidelines for cooperative management of emperor geese among the members of the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council. The goal of the plan is to ensure sustainable subsistence harvest, while keeping the population size at a level that maintains its role in the environment. The plan specifies regulations for the spring/summer subsistence harvest. A fall/winter harvest is specified in the Pacific Flyway management plan for the emperor goose, a companion to the Council plan. The State Board of Game is currently considering this harvest.

Other proposed changes for the 2017 season would open cackling goose egg gathering; expand the Cordova subsistence harvest eligibility to include residents of Tatitlek and Chenega Bay; and amend the spring subsistence harvest seasons in the Northwest Arctic Region. Proposed changes are open for public comment until March 13, 2017.

You can read the proposed rule and submit your comments on the internet at: www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. FWS–R7–MB–2016–0136.

Comments may also be submitted by mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS–R7–MB–2016–0136; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 5275 Leesburg Place, MS: BPHC; Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.

Learn more about the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council at: www.fws.gov/alaska/ambcc/. The Emperor Goose Management Plan and the proposed rule are also available at this site.

The Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council was formed in 2000 to collaboratively manage the spring/summer subsistence migratory bird harvest in Alaska. Members include representatives of Alaska Native peoples, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.