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WA Brant Hunt Dates Announced

Discussion in 'Washington Flyway Forum' started by john4wdh, Jan 11, 2021.

  1. john4wdh

    john4wdh Elite Refuge Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
    1111 Washington St. SE, Olympia, WA 98501

    Jan. 11, 2021

    Contact: Kyle Spragens, 360-791-1933
    Sam Montgomery, 360-688-0721

    Continued brant hunts in Clallam, Pacific, Whatcom counties, limited three-day hunt in Skagit County

    OLYMPIA -- The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today announced continuing hunts in Clallam, Pacific, and Whatcom counties and a three-day hunting season for brant geese in Skagit County.

    Continued stable winter counts of brant have allowed for continued hunting opportunities in Clallam and Whatcom counties -- Jan.16, 20, and 23; and in Pacific County -- Jan. 9, 10, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31.

    Reduced brant counts in Skagit County mean that hunters will have a limited three-day season on Jan. 16, 20, and 23.

    "We conducted aerial brant counts in Skagit County that indicate numbers fell short of our 6,000-bird requirement for an eight-day season," said Kyle Spragens, WDFW waterfowl section manager. The reduced schedule is necessary to restrict harvest of western high arctic brant, which primarily overwinter in Skagit County.

    Spragens said population surveys conducted in Skagit County over Padilla, Samish, and Fidalgo bays tallied 3,430 birds, prompted this year's three-day season.

    "The number of hunting days is directly related to how many brant we count during these surveys. The surveys allow us to monitor the winter population," he said. "This is the fourth consecutive year of fewer than 6,000 brant in Skagit County bays, and while we strive to provide a harvest opportunity when appropriate, these types of historically low counts require us to prioritize our conservation responsibilities for this iconic coastal waterfowl species."

    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.

    Information on brant seasons is available in WDFW’s Migratory Waterfowl and Upland Game Seasons hunting pamphlet. Brant hunters are reminded they must possess a valid migratory bird authorization and brant harvest report card.
  2. Guzman

    Guzman Elite Refuge Member

    Jul 16, 2001
    Richland, WA
    Anyone know why Brant are struggling?
  3. NWh2ofowlr

    NWh2ofowlr Elite Refuge Member

    Oct 10, 2010
    I think it just isn't getting cold enough to up north to push the big numbers down. I know in February the area is plastered with brant. It would be interesting to see what area they cover for their survey as well. I know from Mukilteo to Kingston, Port Townsend, Everett and other areas have a fair amount of brant. They may also be pushing to other areas besides just sitting in Padillia, Samish, Bellingham Bay and Birch Bay. I know I have been seeing good numbers of them.
  4. camano gibby

    camano gibby Elite Refuge Member

    Sep 9, 2000
    Puget Sound
    I agree with NW......changes in weather patterns are a big factor in puget sound brant numbers.
    20 years ago the Izembek Refuge in Alaska had a average Dec temp was 27.3 F. This years Dec average was 30.8F. Why leave a sanctuary with a tremendous eel grass supply unless you have to.
    The notion that how many brant you count on 1 arbitrary day, at a limited arbitrary location, will give you an accurate idea of the overall condition, and the real number of brant we have is flawed.

    Unfortunately it was decided by the FWS not to have the Spring Arctic field count because of Covid protocol...... and this is all Mr Spragens has in his tool box to make season/bag decisions with.
  5. WYtransplant

    WYtransplant Elite Refuge Member

    Dec 6, 2006
    Allyn, WA
    Many People who are on the WA Brant group in this forum way more knowledgeable then me but from my research decline is a complex problem and is not just a local WA Survey issue they have a lot of data to show total #s are declining from 90s...

    I found this article very interesting on old school methods vice Ariel and differences.

    They do have historical data on nesting and surveys and on ground Bio observations showing a Historical decline. Nesting ground changes is a big one, and then decline in Eel grass (primary feed source) which I have seen contributed to shell fish company's water treatment methods increase in water temps and a few other factors as well is causing change in distribution areas of Brant due to eel grass density so Ariel surveys should be covering more ground to get accurate total #s but no one wants to pay for it and now COVID impacting local survey as well..
    john4wdh likes this.
  6. saltdux

    saltdux Elite Refuge Member

    Sep 15, 2001
    Olympic Peninsula, Washington
    Good question, and the points raised above are spot-on. "Death by a thousand cuts" as they say... brant numbers have been in a continual decline for many decades. Habitat loss, climate change, development, etc. Like sea ducks and other marine species they are dependent upon very specific food sources and wintering/ breeding areas. Unlike many other goose species brant do not "adapt" to other food sources or locales very well. They prefer a particular marine habitat and specifically eelgrass. Eelgrass beds have died off, been removed or developed upon on both coasts. In addition, brant just aren't moving down the West Coast as they once were....migration patterns altered by milder temps in Izembek/ AK is keeping many of the wintering brant up north. The Salish Sea is fortunate to still have some remaining intact eelgrass beds in areas. Bays and Estuaries to our south--Oregon, California has lost most of their habitat and are seeing even fewer brant on traditional wintering grounds.

    As a sidenote...We have different wintering brant in WA--Pacific Black brant and Western High Arctic / Grey Bellied brant-- and that impacts management decisions. This complicates our WA brant seasons as the WHA's breed & winter in very specific areas thus more susceptible to overharvest during hunting seasons.The black brant we encounter come from more widespread breeding areas. Many of those February black brant we see in WA are actually birds migrating back up the Pacific Coast from Mexico and areas south on their way through WA/Canada BC coastal areas on their way up to AK breeding grounds.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2021

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