- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

BETHEL, Alaska (AP) - Shooting emperor geese in Alaska is legal for the first time in 30 years, but officials are hoping hunters take it easy.

Federal managers have opened a subsistence hunt for the birds and are visiting coastal villages to lay down ground rules before the geese migrate, KYUK-AM reported (http://bit.ly/2pg3aVE ).

The rules call for targeting one bird at a time instead of spraying the flock, only taking juvenile birds that are not yet breeding, limiting the number of birds taken and only taking one or two eggs from a nest.

About 80 percent of the world’s emperor goose population breeds along the west coast of Yukon Delta in southern Alaska. The migration is expected to begin in mid to late May.

Officials hope the large number of geese doesn’t get to hunters’ heads, though.

“With the season opening for emperor geese for the first time in 30 years, there is a concern of overharvest of emperor geese, because they’re ignorant to a lot of hunting activities, because they haven’t been harvested, so they haven’t learned how to avoid hunters,” said Bryan Daniels, a waterfowl biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The six-week hunt is now open and runs until the beginning of June.

The 1980s was the last time hunters could go out for emperor geese, which was before the bird’s population dropped dangerously low.

Now, the population is just above the threshold to sustain a hunt.

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Information from: KYUK-AM, http://www.kyuk.org

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