Goose hunt underway in Cedar Rapids

Several periods for hunting to be allowed through January

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CEDAR RAPIDS — The first-ever shotgun season inside Cedar Rapids city limits is underway and in the crosshairs: Canada geese.

The first wave allows hunting of Canada geese and teal duck — in accordance with Iowa Department of Natural Resources regulations and licensing — until Sunday in certain rural areas on the southwest side. Several more hunting periods through January are scheduled.

“These are areas of low development, not on any city property, where hunting could help us control the goose population,” said Daniel Gibbins, Cedar Rapids parks superintendent.

Cedar Rapids City Council amended its firearms ordinance in June to allow shotguns for hunting waterfowl — not just geese — on private farmland south of Highway 30 and west of Interstate 380, near The Eastern Iowa Airport and industry.

Because the program is governed by Iowa DNR rules and regulations, this is the first chance to hunt here since the rule change. Mallards, light and dark geese, and ducks are among the species defined as waterfowl by the Iowa DNR.

This would be the first time the city has allowed shotgun hunting or waterfowl hunting in city limits, Gibbins said. While deer hunting is allowed in season, only bows can be used, he said.

City officials worked with airport staff to ensure the rule change wouldn’t create problems, Gibbins said. Shotgun bullets don’t travel far and with the buffer of the road stray bullets aren’t expected to be an issue, he said.

Gibbins said he’s fielded inquiries from hunters for years about hunting opportunities. Hunters need permission from property owners to access their land.

“Usually hunters will go to the assessor’s website, look for areas that look like good habitat and get permission from the property owner,” Gibbins said.

Joel Smart, of Marion, president of the 400-member North Linn Fish and Game Club, said he hadn’t yet heard of the rule change but anticipates interest to be high and hunting opportunities ample.

“We have a lot of geese out here — out 76th Avenue,” said Smart, who works in that area. “It’s just loaded out here. Anywhere with a pond or creek you’ll find geese.”

Chuck Ungs, a naturalist at Linn County Conservation, called it field hunting where hunters lean back, like in a chaise lounge, and build a blind around them.

“For the hard-core goose hunters, they are going to take advantage of getting up close to the city,” Ungs said. “I think you will see a lot of guys going out knocking on doors and harvesting some of the geese.”

The Iowa DNR allowed a special Canada goose hunting season this year. Additional hunting dates for migratory birds in the south region, which includes the approved Cedar Rapids hunting grounds, are through January, as follows:

— Ducks, Coots and Mergansers: Oct. 1-5 and Oct. 22 — Dec 15

— Youth waterfowl: Sept. 24 and 25

— Dark geese (Canada geese, brant and white-fronted geese): Oct. 1-9 and Oct. 22 to Jan. 18

— Light geese (white and blue phase, snow geese and Ross’ geese): Oct. 1-9 and Oct. 22 to Jan. 27

Licenses to hunt state migratory game birds are $10 and are valid from the date of purchase until Jan. 10 of the following year. Federal duck stamps are $25 and valid until July 1, according to the Iowa DNR. Licenses are available at 24 locations in Linn County, including the Linn County Recorder’s Office.

Hunting is prohibited within 200 yards of a building inhabited by people or livestock or a feedlot unless the owner has granted permission, said Alan Foster, a spokesman for the Iowa DNR.

The Cedar Rapids hunting initiative was driven by complaints of nuisance geese clogging bike trails and roadways and getting aggressive with passers-by. Some 2,000 geese are in Cedar Rapids, according to the city.

It prompted City Council to change its goose management strategy to include hunting and also conduct a roundup and slaughter of more than 100 geese. A dozen or more non-lethal goose control methods have been tried over the years, including round up and relocation, laser beams and dogs.

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