Hunting News

Waterfowl Possession Limits Raised Due to Strong Duck Numbers

Although duck numbers remain strong, hunting opportunities still depend on local weather, food, and habitat availability.

Although duck numbers remain strong, hunting opportunities still depend on local weather, food, and habitat availability.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced last Friday that the agency is proposing a continued liberal hunting season for the upcoming 2013 and 2014 waterfowl seasons. According to a survey taken by the Service in its Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report, duck numbers remain strong for 2013. Although the report does show that the number of breeding ducks declined by six percent from 2012, overall duck numbers remain high above the historical average. The USFWS estimates there to be 45.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed areas of North America, nearly 33 percent higher than the decades-long average of 34.3 million. Experts are anticipating a favorable hunting season, depending on local environment.

“Given favorable numbers, most folks would speculate that the fall certainly seems favorable,” said Ducks Unlimited Chief Scientist Dale Humburg. “…with the hunting season a few months off, a lot can happen in regards to your local hunting opportunity. Whether not the weather is dry or when you go hunting can all play into it.”

Habitat conditions seem to have improved over last year, or at least stayed relatively similar. Late spring rains were highly beneficial to the nation’s wetlands and the USFWS is now estimating pond numbers in the U.S. to be 41 percent higher than 2012. The proposed framework would allow duck and geese possession to reach three times the daily bag limit. It was previously two times the daily bag limit.

Information on individual states from America’s four flyways can be seen below, courtesy the USFWS:

Atlantic Flyway (Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia):

  • Ducks: A hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days between September 21, 2013, and January 26, 2014. The proposed daily bag limit is 6 and may include no more than 4 mallards (2 hens), 4 scoters, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 2 hooded mergansers, 2 scaup, 1 black duck, 2 pintails, 2 canvasbacks, 1 mottled duck, and 1 fulvous whistling duck. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is 5, only 2 of which may be hooded mergansers. In states that include mergansers in the duck bag limit, the daily limit is the same as the duck bag limit, only 2 which may be hooded mergansers.
  • Geese: For light geese, states will be able to select a 107-day season between October 1, 2013, and March 10, 2014, with a daily bag limit of 25 birds and no possession limit. Seasons for Canada geese would vary in length among states and areas depending on the populations of birds that occur in those areas. The daily bag limit will be 5 birds in hunt zones established for resident populations of Canada geese. In hunt zones established for migratory populations, bag limits will be 3 or fewer and vary among states and areas. For Atlantic brant, the season length may be 30 days with a daily bag limit of 2.

Mississippi Flyway (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin):

  • Ducks: A hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days between September 21, 2013, and January 26, 2014. The proposed daily bag limit is 6 and may include no more than 4 mallards (2 hens), 3 wood ducks, 1 mottled duck, 2 redheads, 3 scaup, 2 pintails, 1 black duck, and 2 canvasbacks. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is 5, only 2 of which may be hooded mergansers. In states that include mergansers in the duck bag limit, the daily limit is the same as the duck bag limit, only 2 which may be hooded mergansers.
  • Geese: Generally, seasons for Canada goose would be held between September 21, 2013, and January 31, 2014, and vary in length among states and areas. States would be able to select seasons for light geese not to exceed 107 days with 20 geese daily between September 21, 2013, and March 10, 2014; for white-fronted goose the proposed season would not exceed 74 days with a 2-bird daily bag limit or 88 days with a 1-bird daily bag limit between September 21, 2013, and February 16, 2014; and for brant it would not exceed 70 days with a 2-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a 1 bird daily bag limit between September 21, 2013, and January 31, 2013.

Central Flyway (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming):

  • Ducks: Duck season frameworks are between September 21, 2013 and January 26, 2014. The daily bag limit is 6 ducks, with species and sex restrictions as follows: 5 mallards, no more than 2 of which may be females; 3 wood ducks, 3 scaup, 2 pintails, 2 redheads, 2 canvasbacks, and 1 mottled duck. Mottled ducks may not be harvested during the first 5 days after the beginning of the regular season in Texas. In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit (roughly west of the 100th Meridian), a 97-day season is proposed, and the last 23 days can start no earlier than December 7, 2013. A 74-day season is proposed for the remainder of the Central Flyway.
  • Geese: States may select seasons between September 21, 2013 and February 16, 2014 for dark geese and between September 21, 2013, and March 10, 2014, for light geese. East-tier states are able to select a 107 day season for Canada geese with a daily bag limit of 8. For white-fronted geese, east-tier states will be able to select either a 74 day season with a daily bag limit of 2 birds or an 88 day season with a daily bag limit of 1 bird. In the West-tier, states may select a 107 day dark goose season with a daily bag limit of 5 birds. In the Western Goose zone of Texas, the state could select a 95 day season with a daily bag limit of 5 dark geese (including no more than 1 white-fronted goose). For light geese, all states would be able to select a 107-day season with a daily bag limit of 50.

Pacific Flyway (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming):

  • Ducks: States are allowed a 107-day general duck season between September 21, 2013, and January 26, 2014. The proposed daily bag limit is 7 ducks, including no more than 2 mallard hens, 2 redheads, 2 pintails, 2 canvasbacks, and 3 scaup. For scaup, the season length would be 86 days, which may be split according to applicable zones/split duck hunting configurations approved for each State.
  • Geese: 100-day seasons in California, Oregon and Washington are proposed for the Pacific Flyway between September 24, 2013, and March 10, 2014. 107-day seasons in the remainder of the states are proposed.  Proposed basic daily bag limits are up to 20 light geese and 10 dark geese. There are many exceptions to the basic bag limits and season structures for geese in many states, so consult state regulations for specific details. In California, Washington and Oregon, the dark goose limit does not include brant. For brant, the proposed season lengths are 16 days in Oregon and Washington and 30 days in California, with a 3-bird daily limit. Washington and California are able to choose seasons in each of the two zones described in state regulations.

Image from JRMartin Photography on the flickr Creative Commons

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