MORRO BAY — Thanksgiving always causes us to hearken back to the early days when men went abroad to slay beasts and birds to grace the grateful table. Well, it’s that time again. Hunting season.
Waterfowl hunting on Morro Bay invariably brings forth intense feelings on both sides of the table; those that are for it and those against. Hunting is a difficult issue.
Morro Bay is located in what the California Department of Fish & Wildlife calls the Balance of the State area and is open for hunting in designated areas only for all species of waterfowl. This usually occurs concurrently with the opening of Brant season. Dates for that specified on the Fish & Wildlife website appear to be Nov. 9 through Dec. 15 this year.
The balance of the State dates varies for different species. Ducks begin Oct. 20 and continue to Jan. 27 and limits are stated for seven
Large geese, such as Canada geese (and no, that is not Canadian geese. There is no such thing as a Canadian goose. Canada is their name — like Canada Dry Ginger Ale. It’s not Canadian Dry and not Canadian geese) can be hunted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 3 but regular season is Oct. 20 to Jan. 27 and late season for greater white-fronted geese and white geese go from Feb. 9 to 13. Hunters can take 30 a day which may include 20 white geese and 10 dark geese — possession limit triple the bag. Are you confused yet?
OK, back to Morro Bay and the debate over hunting. The most common misunderstanding mentioned almost every hunting season is the statement people bring up about Morro Bay being a bird sanctuary. So, let’s put that to rest. A sanctuary means that someone or something is protected thus people assume (and no you should never assume anything at all in life) that the little blue signs that say Morro Bay is a Bird Sanctuary mean all birds are protected everywhere on the bay. No.
If there is any protection at all, what that sign is indicating is that sanctuary status exists but only within the city limits. Therefore, areas way in the back of the bay are not in the so-called sanctuary. No hunting is allowed within the confines of the city of Morro Bay. No hunting is allowed in State Park areas, but all the rest of the territory is under California Fish & Wildlife and hunting is allowed in the areas they have designated as acceptable in the back bay.
If there is an issue about hunting it is not over what is or is not in a so-called protected area, but whether or not hunting should be an accepted practice here due to the amount of population that lives intimately with the wild open water of the bay.
Hunters have limits. No species that is being hunted on Morro Bay is endangered or threatened. Research shows that there has never been a recorded incident of any person being shot by a hunter on the bay. Wildlife, which unfortunately needs to be managed due to the increase in human population and their needs, is done so by hunting.
If there is anything that is more of a threat to birds that frequent the bay as well as marine mammals it is the ever increasing of disturbances by recreational boating. Birds and animals need their space especially during winter months, but any time, in order to feed and rest. This is the true issue for Morro Bay residents to consider if they want to continue to have wildlife as companion residents.
You can look up hunting information at www.wildlife.ca.gov.