By Gary Kramer
Emperor geese are birds of the Arctic found in Alaska and portions of Siberia. Up to 90 percent of the population breeds in western Alaska, with a significant segment utilizing the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. They winter on the Aleutian Islands, Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak Island.
The Pacific Flyway Management Plan calls for a hunting closure if the emperor goose population falls below 60,000 birds, while hunting can be considered when the population exceeds 80,000. In the mid-1960s the population estimate was about 140,000 birds, but by 1986 it had declined to 42,000 and the hunting season was closed. Since that time emperor goose numbers have increased slowly, and in 2015 they reached 98,000 birds.
As a result—and after a 31-year hiatus—the hunting of emperor geese was authorized for the 2017-’18 season. In 2017 hunting was restricted to Alaska residents by permit. In 2018, 25 nonresident permits were issued by lottery and were included in the allowable take of 1,000 emperor geese statewide. For the 2020-’21 season, the take will remain the same, and resident permits will be available online, from Alaska Department of Fish and Game offices, and from license vendors in rural coastal villages where emperor geese are hunted. The online application period for the 25 nonresident permits is November 1 to December 15, 2019, with successful applicants announced February 21, 2020. A nonresident can apply six times for a single permit, and the cost is $5 per entry. A 2019 or 2020 Alaska small-game hunting license ($60) is required in order to apply.