HARRISBURG — In a change that few — if any — hunters wanted, it was one that had to be made for the good of the resource.

After reviewing last year’s hunter harvests, population survey data and public input, in setting the 2021-22 migratory game bird seasons, the Pennsylvania Game Commission has followed the frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As such, there is a significant change that reduces the bag limit during the regular season in the Atlantic Population Goose Zone to one Canada goose per day.

According to PGC biologists, this change is necessary to reduce harvest rates to a level that will allow for growth of this migratory Canada goose population after the population declined significantly and experienced a near total reproductive failure in 2018. This reduced bag limit should allow AP Canada goose populations to rebound, and in addition to the framework change, there were some slight changes to selected seasons across the state.

“In 2020, we conducted a statewide comprehensive survey of our waterfowl hunters’ desires for season timing,” PGC Waterfowl and Dove Program specialist Nate Huck said. “With the results of this survey, and as a result of public comment on proposed seasons, we have modified a few season dates to better align with public preferences.”

Duck hunters will benefit by the first shift, which moves the opening of the first segment a week earlier and open the Northwest, North and South Zone duck seasons, Saturday, Oct. 9. “We believe the earlier opening day will allow hunters to take advantage of earlier migrating birds such as blue-winged teal,” said Huck, “and in addition, the shift may reduce some hunter crowding issues.

“Other changes are all shifting the season a week later, including the South Zone duck season to Tuesday, Nov. 23, and running the season through Saturday, Jan. 22. We have heard from many hunters in the South Zone they would like to see the season run later into the year.

“We felt shifting the season back allowed us to provide more late-season opportunities without the negative impacts that we might see with seasons closing at the end of January. In the Northwest Zone, duck season will also be shifted a week later by taking a week off the back end of the first segment and putting it at the end of the second segment, so the season closes Saturday, Jan. 8. Many hunters in the Northwest Zone had expressed a desire to hunt later in the season and this change should provide that opportunity.”

Additionally, the AP goose zone’s first split will open Tuesday, Nov. 23, and close Saturday, Nov. 26, and then open Friday, Dec. 24, and run through Saturday, Jan. 22. This change was to better align the AP goose zone with the new South Zone duck season dates.

There is also a date change in the Resident Population Canada Goose Zone, which originally was proposed to be similar to the 2020-21 seasons. Many hunters, however, expressed an interest in hunting the last week of February in this zone, so the third segment of the season was moved back one week from the original proposed seasons, opening Friday, Feb. 4, and closing Saturday, Feb. 26.

An additional change will open more opportunity for veterans and active duty military personnel. Similar to past years, there will be a statewide youth-only day Saturday, Sept. 25. Then there will be a zone-specific Youth and Veterans and Active Duty Military Day, which is Saturday, Nov. 13, in the South Zone.

Following the close of the season, there will be a Veterans and Active Duty Military Only Day. In the South Zone it will be Saturday, Jan. 29.

Eligibility and licensing requirements and season dates and bag limits are available on the Pennsylvania Game Commission website at www.pgc.pa.gov.

Doyle Dietz is parliamentarian of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. Contact the writer: outdoors@republicanherald.com