The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is again offering a late season for hunting Canada geese. The season runs Feb. 1-15 in 30 counties: Steuben, LaGrange, Elkhart, St. Joseph, La Porte, Starke, Marshall, Kosciusko, Noble, DeKalb, Allen, Whitley, Huntington, Wells, Adams, Boone, Hamilton, Madison, Hendricks, Marion, Hancock, Morgan, Johnson, Shelby, Vermillion, Parke, Vigo, Clay, Sullivan and Greene
The late season helps control the population of the breeding “giant” subspecies of Canada geese around urban areas, a common issue in Indiana and surrounding states. Indiana has offered hunters a late Canada goose season in select counties every February since 2008.
A valid hunting license, Indiana waterfowl stamp privilege, signed federal duck stamp and a HIP (Harvest Information Program) number are required to hunt during the season.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) first granted Indiana a late season for Canada goose as a three-year experiment, with a requirement that at least 80 percent of geese harvested during the period needed to be giant Canada geese.
Indiana has now met the FWS’ criteria in all areas, and as a result the free permit previously issued in late seasons is no longer required. Checking of shot geese is also no longer required.
In 2012, the state issued late-season Canada goose permits to 4,362 hunters, and 3,287 of them hunted, said DNR waterfowl biologist Adam Phelps. Indiana hunters harvested 8,076 Canada geese during the 2012 late season, almost 1,600 more than in 2011, according to estimates from the FWS. The total late-season harvest for Indiana across all five years is estimated at 33,500 geese.
The season may be closed in future years if local Canada goose populations are sufficiently reduced.
River otters expand to 80 percent of Indiana counties
River otters are expanding in Indiana and now occupy much of their historic range, representing a success story for wildlife conservation. Now Hoosiers have a good chance of experiencing river otters and creating a memory to last a lifetime.
My first wild encounter with an Indiana river otter was a couple of years ago when I watched one cross a road bordering the Ohio River. At first, I couldn’t identify the animal, as it looked for all purposes like a kangaroo with miniature hind legs. Its back portion was considerably larger than the front half.
Then I realized I was watching a very pregnant river otter waddling across the road. She slid through the fence and launched herself into a clear lake bordering the other side of the road. It looked like she found an ideal place to hunt fish for her forthcoming brood.
Officially considered extirpated and absent from Indiana by 1942, river otters were missing from the Hoosier landscape for more than 50 years. Then in 1995, wildlife officials began releasing otters into key areas of the state.
Over a five-year period, 303 otters were transported from Louisiana and released at 12 sites in northern and southern Indiana. The reintroduction was so successful by 2005 that otters were removed from the state’s endangered species list.
Otters have moved into central Indiana, where the habitat wasn’t considered ideal for the species. But otters found suitable areas there to live, according to Scott Johnson, non-game biologist with the DNR.
“River otters now occupy more than 80 percent of Indiana counties,” he said. “It’s now been seven years since de-listing, and all our information indicates the otter population continues to expand.”
Work to improve water quality in the state has benefited the river otter. River otters’ diet consists primarily of fish, but also includes mussels, crayfish, reptiles and amphibians.
State wildlife managers are aware conflicts may arise from higher otter numbers. This can be especially true with private pond owners who are sometimes surprised by the rate at which the animals eat fish.
“One pond owner may enjoy watching otters, while a different landowner may find them to be a nuisance, and is upset by the loss of fish in his pond,” said DNR furbearer biologist Shawn Rossler.
Last year, district wildlife biologists received 34 complaints concerning river otters eating fish out of private ponds and commercial fish hatcheries, or destroying private property. As of early spring, wildlife managers had issued 10 control permits to resolve otter complaints in 2012.
As the otter population grows, wildlife managers must find balance to keep populations healthy while preventing conflicts with landowners. Finding balance isn’t always easy, but it’s needed to ensure the continued success and acceptance of river otters in Indiana.
For more information, visit www.IN.gov and search for “river otter.”
Officers investigate albino deer poaching
Indiana conservation officers have filed several misdemeanor hunting-related charges in Warrick County on 28-year-old Donald Kenny II from Newburgh, for the illegal taking of an albino button buck deer.
According to the investigation, on Nov. 17, 2012, shortly after 6 p.m. CST, residents in the area of Eble and Pigeon Valley roads in southeastern Warrick County saw Kenny allegedly exit a pickup truck and shoot at an albino deer illuminated by the pickup’s headlights.
The witnesses immediately contacted Warrick County Sheriff’s Dispatch, and conservation officers responded to the area. The officers searched the area for some time, but nothing was found.
According to wildlife biologists and in accordance with Indiana law, albino deer may be harvested. DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife Operations Staff Specialist Linnea Petercheff stated, “Albino deer are rare, but not completely uncommon.
The albino characteristic is simply indicative of the recessive genes with the coloration. Albino animals exist and are seen periodically, most often in squirrels and raccoons.”
The initial incident violated state hunting laws by shooting from a public roadway, shooting after legal deer hunting hours and using an artificial light to take a deer. The particular albino deer had been a common sight in the community. (Some Hoosiers have expressed the opinion taking albino deer should be illegal.)
Around 10:30 the same evening, the vehicle returned to the area. Kenny had returned along with a male and female companion to look for the deer. Local witnesses again called dispatch.
Local resident witnesses detained the male companion and the vehicle while waiting for law enforcement to arrive. A Warrick County deputy arrived and procured further information and evidence for the investigation.
The next day, conservation officers continued the investigation. The wounded deer was found and had to be destroyed. With the ensuing investigation, assistance from the witnesses and the Warrick County Sheriff’s Office, the necessary evidence was gathered to warrant charges filed with the Warrick County Prosecutor’s Office.
The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Farm World. Readers with questions or comments for Jack Spaulding may contact him by email at email@example.com or by writing to him in care of this publication.