The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service published a rule in the Federal Register on June 20 eliminating date limitations for controlling resident Canada geese populations in the continental United States.

In 2005, the wildlife service published an environmental impact statement on management of resident Canada geese, stating that the birds “are increasingly coming into conflict with people and causing personal and public property damage.” Subsequently, the service implemented actions intended to reduce, manage, and control resident Canada goose, which included destruction of Canada goose nests and eggs by authorized personnel between March 1 and June 30. However, according to the USFWS, some resident Canada geese currently initiate nests in February and it “seems likely that in the future nest initiation dates will begin earlier and hatching of eggs will perhaps end later than dates currently experienced.” The new rule amends the depredation and control orders to allow destruction of resident Canada goose nests and eggs at any time of year.

According to the wildlife service, hunting harvest alone has not reduced resident Canada goose numbers enough to alleviate conflicts in some areas, despite long hunting seasons and large bag limits; also, the hunting season does not coincide with the time when many conflicts with geese, such as crop depredation, need to be addressed. Many areas frequented by Canada geese are either closed to hunting for safety purposes (e.g., airports, urban areas) or are privately owned, where access to hunters can only be granted by the property owner.

Direct control measures such as nest and egg destruction and lethal removal are usually employed to alleviate local conflicts, so whether to conduct such measures is a local decision. The wildlife service has a responsibility to reduce risks to public safety (e.g., at airports) and prevent serious injuries to agricultural crops that are caused by resident Canada geese.

The new rule also clarifies that all Canada geese that nest within the lower 48 states and the District of Columbia are resident Canada geese.

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Chesapeake Forest comment

Maryland’s Department of Natural Resources continues to accept public comment on a proposal for restructuring the Chesapeake Forest Lands lease program for hunting clubs. Maryland Forest Service staff hosted a public meeting on June 18 to present the proposal and begin the public input process. Comments will be accepted online through July 19. The Chesapeake Forest Lands comprise more than 73,000 acres in Caroline, Dorchester, Somerset, Wicomico, and Worcester counties.

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Fishing report

The most popular location in the Chesapeake Bay to fish for striped bass continues to be the east side of the Bay Bridge. As early as 6 a.m., charter boats can be seen anchored up with dozens of private boats jockeying for position. This is all occurring at the 10- to 25-foot drop-off. Anglers are chumming or chunking or simply drifting a chunk of soft crab back to the pylon bases. Others are jigging soft plastics to the suspended fish with good results. The grade of stripers at the bridge is good with many fish in the 25-inch to 28-inch size range.

Rockfish can also be found suspended along channel edges at Swan, Love, and Podickory points. Boats have been setting up chum slicks and catching a mix of striped bass and catfish. There tends to be a higher number of sub-legal striper at these locations.

A variety of lures is working for trollers. Red hoses have been popular as have Storm type swimshads and bucktails, trolled in tandem or behind umbrella rigs. Drone spoons are another choice, either in gold or in color combinations such as chartreuse with silver. The spoons can be pulled behind inline weights or planers.

The outside edge of Hacketts Bar, the Gum Thickets, and the inside edge of Bloody Point have been places to find stripers holding in about 15 to 20 feet of water. Chumming or chunking is working and catfish are a big part of what is being attracted.

Jigging has been good at the above locations as well as other channel edges in Eastern Bay, Breezy Point, and Thomas Point. Soft plastics in the 6-inch-or-better size range with light jig heads have been a good choice.

Anglers fishing topwater lures in the shallows of Eastern Bay, the Choptank, and Little Choptank rivers in the pre-dawn hours have caught some rockfish in the 20- to 25-inch size range. The shallow-water fishery for white perch has also been good for those casting beetle spins and similar type lures along the shorelines where structure can be found.

Farther south, the area around the Target Ship and Middle Grounds is starting to see more large red drum, which provides exciting catch-and-release action. Locating them with depth finders and dropping soft crab baits down to them is often a productive tactic. Unfortunately, croaker and spot have been difficult to find.

Recreational crabbing continues to move along at a steady pace as warmer water temperatures and time allow crabs to shed and gain in size. Low salinity values continue to be a problem; however, the Honga River area has been providing some excellent crabbing.

On the freshwater scene, largemouth bass are now in summering. They typically feed in the shallower areas at night and retreat to cool shade during the day. Northern snakeheads may be part of the mix when fishing topwater lures such as buzzbaits or frogs over thick grass.

On the Atlantic Coast, surf anglers are reeling in kingfish on pieces of bloodworm or Fishbites. Small bluefish are biting mullet on bottom rigs. Large baits such as clams and menhaden are catching cownose rays, inshore shark species, and an occasional black drum or cobia.

Fishing for flounder in the back bay channels is in full swing. Some of the lesser-used channels such as Sinepuxent Bay near the airport offer less boat traffic and good fishing. Large white or pink Gulp type baits have caught larger flounder, while squid and minnows are the traditional baits.

Off the coast, trolling along the 30 Fathom Lumps has produced a mix of false albacore, Atlantic bonito, bluefish, dolphin-fish, and bluefin tuna. Farther out, the Washington Canyon has been the place to find yellowfin tuna. Many boats are reporting double-digit catches of yellowfins in the 35-pound range.

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Duck blind know-it-all

The world’s largest known pollinators are black-and-white ruffed lemurs.

Follow me on Twitter @csknauss / email me at cknauss@stardem.com

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