Presenter: Vernon Bevill
Commission Agenda Item No. 7
Snow Goose Conservation
I. DISCUSSION: In February of 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the establishment of a Conservation Order to reduce the Mid-continent light goose population in 24 states in the Mississippi and Central Flyways. In Texas, all migratory bird hunting seasons were closed by 14 February 1999. Texas authorized the take of light geese from February 16 – April 25, 1999 under the authority of the Conservation Order.
Harvest survey results indicate that approximately 11,000 hunters participated in the 1999 Light Goose Conservation Season in Texas, resulting in an estimated harvest of 53,000 light geese. Of those that responded, 60% used electronic callers, 36% used unplugged shotguns, and 16% hunted after sunset. Survey results indicated that 62% of the respondents would participate in another Special Light Goose Conservation Season if offered again.
Animal rights organizations challenged the new regulations in court and succeeded in forcing the Service to withdraw the regulations and develop a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Due to the process associated with the development of an EIS, the document is not expected to be completed until the summer of 2000, eliminating the opportunity to implement a conservation season for the 1999-2000 season and possibly for the 2000-2001 season. In response to this situation, Congress is currently considering a bill to re-instate the conservation order until the EIS is completed. The Arctic Tundra Habitat Emergency Conservation Act (HR 2454) has passed the House and is being considered in the Senate. The bill must pass both Houses before it can be implemented. Should Congress pass this legislation before the approaching recess, Texas would be able to initiate rule changes under the authority of the Executive Director to implement the Light Goose Conservation Season.
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