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Special License Now Needed for Early Canada Goose Season

Article By 
Craig Bihrle


North Dakota has had an early Canada goose season for more than a decade, but this fall, for the first time, hunters will need a special license to participate.

State legislators created the new early Canada goose license as part of HB 1264, passed unanimously in both the state House of Representatives and Senate. The fee is $5 for all residents, regardless of age, and $50 for nonresidents, except that nonresidents under age 16 (as of September 1) would pay the resident rate if their state has a reciprocal youth licensing agreement with North Dakota.

While many other license fee increases that were part of another bill will not be in effect until 2014, the new early goose license is in effect this year.

“We supported this license as it gives us a way to specifically survey early Canada goose season hunters,” State Game and Fish Department wildlife division chief Randy Kreil said. “Starting this fall we will have a much better handle on how many people are hunting during the early season and how many birds they are taking.”

One thing that both resident and nonresident hunters should note is that the early goose season licenses are only available through electronic purchase, either online at the Game and Fish Department website (; via phone at (800) 406-6409; or at license vendors in 22 counties (see accompanying list) that are linked to the Department’s online licensing system. In counties that are not on the Game and Fish system, the licenses are not available at vendors that only have the paper general hunting licenses.

HB 1264 also included other provisions that will affect hunters. Nonresidents who hunt during the early Canada goose season will no longer have to purchase a 14-day regular season waterfowl license. Previously, nonresidents needed to purchase a regular waterfowl license, and in all but Richland, Sargent, Benson, Ramsey and Towner counties, they had to use at least seven of their 14 days for the early season.

The $50 nonresident early season license does not have a limit on the number of days a nonresident can hunt.

For both residents and nonresidents, a federal waterfowl stamp is needed September 1 by all hunters ages 16 and over. In addition, all resident hunters, regardless of age, need a general game and habitat license at $13. Residents age 16 and older also need a small game license.

All migratory bird hunters must also register with the Harvest Information Program prior to hunting. Hunters who purchase a license through the North Dakota Game and Fish Department website at, or instant licensing telephone number (800) 406-6409, can easily get HIP certified.

Otherwise, hunters can call (888) 634-4798 and record the HIP number on their fishing, hunting and furbearer certificate. Those who registered to hunt the spring light goose season in North Dakota do not have to register with HIP again, as it is required only once per year.

While the license fee is a big change, the early goose season structure will likely be the same as last year, pending final approval of the governor’s proclamation in late July. Tentative opening day is August 15, and the season would run through September 15, except in the special Missouri River zone, where the season would close September 7. The eight fewer early season days in the Missouri River zone are added to the end of the regular goose season in that zone in December.

Canada Goose

Last year the early Canada goose season had a daily bag limit of 15 and possession limit of 30. This year states can offer three times the daily bag limit for most migratory birds, so Game and Fish is proposing an early season possession limit of 45 in the governor’s proclamation.

Online Counties

The following county auditors and all their authorized license vendors are part of the Game and Fish Department electronic licensing system.

  • Adams
  • Benson
  • Bottineau
  • Bowman
  • Burleigh
  • Cass
  • Dickey
  • Grand Forks
  • Grant
  • McIntosh
  • Mercer
  • Morton
  • Ramsey
  • Rolette
  • Sargent
  • Stark
  • Steele
  • Stutsman
  • Walsh
  • Ward
  • Williams

Counties Not Online

The license vendors in the following counties are not yet part of the Game and Fish electronic licensing system.

  • Barnes
  • Burke
  • Cavalier
  • Divide
  • Dunn
  • Eddy
  • Emmons
  • Foster
  • Golden Valley
  • Griggs
  • Hettinger
  • Kidder
  • LaMoure
  • Logan
  • McHenry
  • McKenzie
  • McLean
  • Mountrail
  • Nelson
  • Oliver
  • Pembina
  • Pierce
  • Ransom
  • Renville
  • Richland
  • Sheridan
  • Sioux
  • Slope
  • Towner
  • Traill
  • Wells