In July 2002 the USFWS granted qualifying states in the Atlantic Flyway the ability to establish Atlantic Flyway Resident Population (AFRP) Canada goose hunt zones (Federal Register 67:53695). The intent of these AFRP zones is to maximize harvest of AFRP Canada geese with minimal impact upon migrant populations. The proposal provided by the AFC further delineated Southern James Bay Population (SJBP) and Atlantic Population (AP) Canada goose harvest areas, which were incorporated into the 2003 revision of the SJBP Management Plan and 2005 AP Management Plan. The original 2002 criteria for establishment of AFRP zones were:
Proposed areas may not contain more than 10% of AP recoveries or more than 30% of SJBP recoveries in a state. The 30% criterion applies to areas outside of SJBP zones. SJBP zones are defined by the SJBP Management Plan as containing at least 70% of SJBP recoveries in a state. States that have had their regular Canada goose seasons closed in recent years and who have less than 25 recoveries from any migrant population would also be eligible.
Frameworks for the regular season would be 70 days between November 15 and February 15 in PA, MD and VA, with daily bag and possession limits of 5 and 10 Canada geese, respectively. In NY and CT the framework will be 70 days between the last Saturday in October and February 15 with the same bag limits. In NC the framework will be 70 days between October 1 and February 15. These seasons in proposed areas would be in lieu of any special late seasons for Canada geese.
In 2002, and subsequently in 2005 when the initial evaluation of these seasons was made, NAP hunt zones were precluded from the proposal, ‘pending further analysis of band return data and population status’. The USFWS deemed it premature to include NAP harvest areas at that time. Pertinent to the NAP and the development of AFRP harvest zones, in 2002, evaluations of migrant band recoveries resulted in the delineation of high and low harvest areas within the NAP harvest areas in the Atlantic Flyway. High harvest areas were defined as those areas within each state containing at least 70% of NAP leg band recoveries. Low harvest areas were all other areas of each state within existing NAP zones.
Based upon the performance of both AFRP and NAP harvest zones in the Atlantic Flyway since 2002, in 2008, states were allowed to create AFRP zones in current NAP harvest zones or portions thereof, if those areas met the criteria initially set forth for establishment of an AFRP zone. Further, in congruence with the recently adopted Southern James Bay Population (SJBP) Management Plan (2008), the AFC removed reference to 30% of total band recoveries in SJBP harvest zones. The collective requirement of <1% direct recovery rate of all migrant geese in AFRP zones is adequate to provide the necessary protection for not only SJBP geese, but AP and NAP geese as well.
As further analysis has been conducted to evaluate these zones, incremental changes have been made. Thus, the following criteria were used to delineate new areas and evaluate existing AFRP seasons for the 2012-2014 period.
AFRP Zone delineation criteria for 2012-2014 seasons:
1. Proposed areas may not contain more than 10% of all AP recoveries, 10% of all NAP recoveries within a state from 2002-2010.
2. States that have less than 25 annual recoveries statewide from any migrant population would be eligible to create RP areas that contain no more than 40% of all AP/NAP recoveries within the state.
AFRP zone evaluation criteria for 2012-14 seasons: 1. All areas holding an AFRP regular season must collectively account for no more than a 1% adult direct recovery rate for any migrant goose population (AP, NAP) in the flyway with an open regular AFRP season.
2. In states with more than 25 annual migrant recoveries statewide, AFRP areas must account for no more than 10% of all AP or NAP recoveries during the next 3-year period (2012-2014).
3. In states with fewer than 25 annual migrant recoveries statewide, AFRP areas must account for no more than 40% of all AP or NAP recoveries.
4. Areas contributing disproportionately to the cumulative adult direct recovery rate (i.e., "hot spots") will be identified and these areas may be eliminated to stay below the 1% adult direct recovery rate threshold.
5. In the event a season would be closed for any migrant population (AP, NAP), AFRP areas would remain open as long as they met the cumulative 1% adult direct recovery rate threshold.
6. Band recoveries will be examined annually. At 3-year intervals an evaluation of all available data will occur to determine if zone modifications and/or changes to opening and closing framework dates are needed to ensure continued compliance with established criteria.
Evaluation of 2012-2014 seasons:
We examined band recoveries in AFRP areas from the 2012-2014 hunting seasons in those states that held AFRP seasons (CT, NC, VA, MD, PA, NY). Direct recovery rates of AP and NAP Canada geese (Criteria 1) did not exceed the 1% criteria during any year and were < 1.0% (0.14%) collectively for all AFRP areas in the flyway (Table 1).
Except for NC, total (direct and indirect) AP and/or NAP recoveries within individual states did not exceed the allowable criteria (Criterion 2 for MD, NY, PA, and VA and Criterion 3 for CT). In NC, two of four migrant recoveries occurred within the AFRP zone (50%). Overall for all AFRP zones in the Flyway, 0.053% of all migrant recoveries collectively occurred within the AFRP zones.
Recoveries of AP and NAP Canada geese were plotted to identify local areas or “hot spots” containing a higher proportion of migrant recoveries. These recoveries are presented in Figures 1-10 for each state holding an AFRP season.
The AFRP zones in the Atlantic Flyway continue to target AFRP geese rather than migrant geese. Continued monitoring is warranted.