The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced continuing hunts for brant geese in Clallam, Pacific, and Whatcom counties, but Skagit County will be closed to brant harvest this season.
Continued stable winter counts of brant have allowed for scheduled hunting opportunities in Clallam and Whatcom counties on Jan. 21, 25, and 28 and in Pacific County on Jan. 17, 19, 21, 22, 24, 26, 28, and 29, according to a news release.
A trend of historically low brant counts in Skagit County means brant hunting will remain closed in that county including during the Youth, Veteran, and Active Military waterfowl hunting opportunity on Saturday, Feb. 4.
“Recent aerial counts in Skagit County indicate numbers fell short of the 3,000-bird requirement to allow brant hunting there this season,” said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl section manager. “These population surveys, conducted over Padilla, Samish, and Fidalgo bays, tallied 2,481 brant — the second lowest count in the 71-year history of these surveys.”
The surveys allow WDFW biologists to monitor the winter population in relation to the harvest pressure that can occur in Skagit County. The number of hunting days is directly related to how many brant are counted during these surveys.
“This is the sixth consecutive year of fewer than 6,000 brant in Skagit County bays, and while we strive to provide harvest opportunities when appropriate, these historically low counts require us to restrict opportunities for this unique coastal waterfowl species to meet our conservation objectives,” Spragens explained.
Brant are a migratory species of goose with a sleek black head, white necklace, and distinct brown and black body feathers with striking white flank feathers. They winter in coastal bays, estuaries, and lagoons, where they eat eelgrass, sea lettuce, and other aquatic vegetation.
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, and hunters in Whatcom County are advised to review boundaries relevant to Bellingham and Lummi Bays.
Brant hunters are reminded they must possess a valid migratory bird authorization and brant harvest report card.