Hunting will be open Thursday, Saturday, Jan. 20, 22, 24, 26 and 27, with a daily limit of two birds.
The seven-day season was approved after an aerial survey found nearly 9,200 brant on Fidalgo, Padilla and Samish bays. At least 6,000 brant must be counted in Skagit County before hunting is allowed.
"Brant numbers climbed again this year, and the wintering population is back around the long-term average," said Don Kraege, a state Fish and Wildlife waterfowl manager. "There could be a number of factors for the increase, but it's most likely due to good production on the breeding grounds."
Last year, about 6,100 birds returned to Skagit County, about 3,100 fewer birds than the long-term average. About 9,500 brant were counted in aerial surveys in 2006 and about 10,000 in 2005.
Kraege says about 1,500 hunters register for the special hunt every year, and on any given day about 300 to 500 are actively hunting during the short season.
Those who participate must have prior written authorization and a harvest card. Hunters need to record their information immediately after taking a brant, and return the report by Feb. 15. Hunters who fail to return them will be ineligible to hunt brant in 2008-09.
"Compliance has been pretty good during the hunt as well as providing their harvest reports," Kraege said. "This year we will do some intensive bag checks for avian influenza, and taking samples and measurements to see the breeding origin of the birds."
Hunters who harvest a brant implanted with a radio transmitter should call 360-902-2522.
Hunters who harvest a brant fitted with a colored leg band should also report the leg band's numbers and color. Birds fitted with metal leg bands can be reported by calling 800-327-BAND or online at www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bbl.