News of the Week

For Immediate Release: WEEK OF February 17, 2014

Conservation Order Light Goose Season now open

Waterfowlers don't have to put away all of their hunting gear yet. The Conservation Order Light Goose Season, also known as "COLGS," is open now and runs through March 30.

COLGS gives hunters the an opportunity to hunt snow, blue and Ross' geese - all known as "light geese" - with no daily or possession limits, unplugged shotguns and all the way up until a half hour after official sunset. Electronic calls are allowed as well. All other waterfowl regulations apply, including federally approved, non-toxic shot requirements. "The COLGS is designed to play an important function," said Josh Richardson, migratory game bird biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. "It's aimed at helping to stabilize the population of mid-continent light geese that have become so populated that they are severely damaging their arctic (breeding) habitat."

Adult snow and Ross' geese have a low natural mortality rate and benefit from the availability of agricultural crops in the south-central United States. These geese are living longer and reproducing more, and their overpopulation continues to degrade Arctic habitat. Because snow geese feed in the arctic by grubbing and pulling out plants by the roots, large numbers can literally destroy extensive areas of tundra." Since 1999, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has cooperated with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to offer the COLGS. Federal law requires that the Wildlife Department estimate the harvest of light geese during the COLGS. Hunters who plan to pursue snow, blue and Ross' geese during COLGS need to register for the hunt online at https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/COLGS/COLGS.aspx or by sending their name, address and phone number to: Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation; Attn: COLGS; P.O. Box 53465; Oklahoma City, OK 73152.

According to Richardson, hunters who plan to hunt COLGS should try to secure hunting spots in the eastern portion of the state, such as at Webbers Falls and Ft. Gibson, where he said large concentrations of light geese can be found on public lands as they finish out the winter and begin migrating north. Also, because snow geese follow the snow line back north, the best opportunities for hunts are at the very start of the season.

For complete state and federal licensing information, consult the "2013-14 Oklahoma Waterfowl Guide," available free online at http://www.wildlifedepartment.com/laws_regs/waterfowlguide.htm.