The Massachusetts early Canada goose–hunting season began Tuesday, Sept. 5, one half-hour before sunrise, and will end one half-hour after sunset on Friday, Sept. 22. This is the first year the early goose season is allowing hunting to go one half-hour after sunset.
The timing of the season and the daily bag limit of seven birds is intended to reduce growing populations of geese that have lost their natural urge to migrate with the seasons.
Canada geese feed on young growth, and pull vegetation up by the roots. The large birds also produce from a half-pound to a pound and half of droppings per day, according to state wildlife biologists. Farmers and shell fishermen concerned about the damaging effects of a large, nonmigratory goose population on Island water bodies and agricultural fields often welcome the sound of booming shotguns in the early fall.
A study by Dr. Stephen H. Jones of the University of New Hampshire Jackson Estuarine Laboratory in Durham, N.H. (“E. coli Ribotyping for Identifying Sources of Fecal Contamination in the Salt Ponds of Martha’s Vineyard”), identified geese and cormorants as significant sources of E. coli bacteria in Trapps, Eel, Farm, and Sengekontacket ponds.
In 2008, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife (DFW) increased the daily bag limit from five to seven geese in an effort to further reduce the number of geese that have made Massachusetts their year-round home.
According to a history of goose management provided on the DFW website, prior to the 1930s it was unusual for geese to nest in Massachusetts. That is no longer the case.