IF&W would like to remind Maine waterfowl hunters about the need to differentiate between a Common and Barrow's Goldeneye during waterfowl season, which opens today (Oct. 1).
In May 2007, the Maine Legislature listed the Barrow's Goldeneye as a Threatened Species because they are potentially vulnerable to extirpation from the state due to their very small wintering population (believed to be less than 250 birds.) Because it is a Threatened Species, the law prohibits their "take."
Barrow's Goldeneyes are found in low numbers on certain large lakes, rivers and coastal areas throughout Maine, normally from November to March. Among those areas are the Kennebec River, from Skowhegan to Richmond; the Penobscot River, from Old Town to Bucksport; Englishman Bay; Belfast Bay; Mount Desert Narrows, from Trenton to Lamoine Beach; Carver's Harbor in Vinalhaven; the St. George River below Thomaston; the Harraseeket River in Freeport.
Barrow's and Common Goldeneyes look very similar, with a white body, black back and black-appearing head. The Barrow's, however, has a crescent-shaped spot in front of its eye (while the Common has a round white spot). A Barrow's head is more black on its side and has a stubbier bill. A Barrow's female has most of the same characteristics as the male, but she has an orange-yellow bill.
Because the two look so similar, the harvest of Common Goldeneyes may result in the unintentional taking of Barrow's Goldeneyes, according to Wildlife Biologist Sandy Ritchie, who manages habitat conservation and special projects at IF&W. By improving the duck hunter's ability to distinguish Barrow's from Common Goldeneyes and by alerting hunters that Barrow's Goldeneyes are known to congregate in certain areas, IF&W and hunter will minimize the unintentional take of Barrow's Goldeneyes.
Despite our efforts, a few Barrow's Goldeneyes may be unintentionally shot. In these cases, hunters are required to surrender any Barrow's Goldeneye taken incidentally to legal waterfowl hunting activities. The bird must be surrendered to the Department within one month of when it was shot by contacting a local game warden or calling the Wildlife Division in Bangor to coordinate a pick-up. There will be no penalty for killing a Barrow's and reporting it to the Department.
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