The snow goose migration is underway and with it, the opportunity for waterfowl hunters to participate in the special conservation order allowing hunting of light geese in Iowa through May 1.
While snow goose migration can be found across the state, it is more common to see the huge flocks passing through western and southwestern Iowa on their way to arctic Canada.
“We typically see somewhere between 1,000 to 1,500 of our waterfowl hunters participate in this special season yearly and they average around 8-10 geese each, but it’s really weather-dependent,” said Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “When the weather holds the birds here, the harvest is higher, when it’s mild and they pass right through, the harvest is lower. March and April are generally the months when we see our biggest push of light geese into the state and given the current weather, it’s likely going to be March this year.”
The special season is used as a tool to help reduce the light goose population to allow the fragile arctic habitat to recover. The 2022 special conservation order is open statewide from Jan. 23 to May 1.
New way to register for the Harvest Information Program (HIP)
For hunters to participate in the special conservation order on light geese, they will need a hunting license, habitat fee, state migratory game bird fee and to have completed the HIP registration.
There is a new process to register for HIP. After purchasing a hunting license, the license holder will need to open the Go Outdoors Iowa app on their smartphone, go to www.iowadnr.gov/waterfowl or www.gooutdoorsiowa.com and answer a few questions. Once registered, hunters will need to physically write a confirmation number on the line provided at the top of the license as proof of registration or take a screen shot of their confirmation number.
“The process is up and working pretty well. For those uncomfortable with technology, they can call me or the DNR office in Des Moines and we can help get them registered,” Jones said.
Jones office number is (641) 357-3517 ext. 23. The main Iowa DNR office number is (515) 725-8200.
Registering for HIP is a federal requirement for all migratory bird hunters. Migratory game birds mean more than ducks and geese; it includes ducks, geese, coots, doves, woodcock, rails, and snipe. The purpose of the new method of registration is to improve the quality of the data collected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), which allows the FWS to be more specific in their surveys and survey the right hunters.
Deer, turkey, and upland game hunters are not required to register for HIP and do not need to take the survey or record a confirmation number. Registering for HIP can be done later, if the hunter changes their mind.