A federal court challenge to this spring's snow goose hunting currently underway in North Dakota, South Dakota, and some other states was denied March 17 by Judge Thomas F. Hogan of the U.S. District Court for The District of Columbia.
The unique spring hunts are intended to reduce the exploding mid-continent light goose (snow and Ross' goose) populations that are severely damaging their arctic nesting areas, to the detriment of other species, as well as themselves .
Hogan denied a motion for a preliminary injunction filed by the Humane Society of the United States, the Animal Protection Institute, the Animal Alliance of Canada, and the Canadian Environmental Defense Fund. In his ruling, Judge Hogan wrote that the "plaintiffs have not met the burden of establishing imminent irreparable harm, however, or that the injunction would serve the public interest."
The plaintiffs' original lawsuit still remains, but it may not go to court for several months. In the meantime, light geese can continue to be taken under the Conservation Order in effect. Before light goose hunting can take place in the spring of 2000, however, it is possible that the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service will still need to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, rather than the shorter Environmental Assessment that was done. No ruling has been made on that issue.
Snow geese have been present in good numbers in eastern South Dakota since late February, and they had moved into North Dakota by mid-March. For more information on regulations or the status of the migration, you may call South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks at: 605-773-3485, or North Dakota Game and Fish at: 701-328-6300.