Alaska Reopens Hunting for Emperor Geese

The species has been protected from harvest since 1987

By Paul Wait

Alaskan waterfowl hunters will have a chance this fall to take Emperor geese for the first time in more than 30 years.

Emperor geese — 6-pound waterfowl that sport white heads, grayish bodies, orange feet and two-tone pink and gray beaks — breed in western Alaska. Emperors generally don’t leave Alaska to winter, but they do migrate to coastal areas, in particular, to Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands.

The species has been protected from sport hunting since 1986, when the population crashed to fewer than 45,000 birds. Subsistence hunting was curtailed in 1987.

But now, emperor geese have recovered. With a stable, healthy population estimated at 177,000 geese, a tightly monitored hunting season has been established for 2017, according to Kyle Smith, waterfowl program manager for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

“The fall harvest quota is 1,000 emperor geese, which is allocated among seven different hunt areas in western Alaska,” he said.

Hunters will be allowed to take one goose per season by registration permit. Successful hunters must report their harvest within 24 or 72 hours, depending on zone. When the quota for a zone is reached, it will be closed by emergency order. The season begins on Sept. 1 in four zones, with an October start in the other areas.

Hunting for emperor geese is only open to Alaska residents for 2017, however 25 non-resident permits will be issued for 2018, according to Smith.

“These permits will be issued under a draw tag system, where applicants will apply during the November/December application period for 2018 hunts,” he said.

More information will be available this summer on the Alaska Fish and Game website,