Montana’s Fish Wildlife & Parks Commission is seeking comment on the state’s 2012-13 waterfowl seasons.

Among other things, FWP commissioners are seeking comment on the following two options for the Central Flyway waterfowl seasons:

  1. adopting waterfowl seasons similar to last year for the Pacific and Central flyways, with the season opening Sept. 29 and extending until Jan. 11, 2013 in the Pacific Flyway; or
  2. adopting a mid-season split that would close the Central Flyway duck, coot, and goose seasons Oct. 15-30 and then re-open the season from Oct. 31- Jan. 19 for ducks and coots and Oct. 31-Jan. 27 for geese. Tundra swan season would run continuously from Sept. 29 through Jan. 3, 2013. No splits are proposed for the Pacific Flyway.

“The split season would provide more days for hunting mallards and Canada geese later in the season by taking away days in the latter part of October,” said George Pauley, FWP’s wildlife management section chief in Helena.

Under federal guidelines, 105 days are available for general waterfowl hunting in the Pacific Flyway, while in the Central Flyway 97 days are available for ducks and coots and 105 days for geese, Pauley said.  The annual May breeding population survey in the traditional survey areas in Canada and the U.S. found a record 48.6 million breeding ducks in the population of 10 primary species, 43 percent above the long-term average. Mallards were up 15 percent from last year and 40 percent above the long-term average. Scaup numbers were up 21 percent from last year, and gadwalls remained 96 percent above the long-term average.

Changes proposed in bag limits this season include increases in the scaup and white goose bag limits in both flyways and an increase in the dark goose bag limit from 4 to 5 in the Central Flyway.

Here is run down the proposed seasons and bag limits for 2012-13:

Pacific Flyway

  • Youth Waterfowl Season—Sept. 22-23
  • General Waterfowl Season—Sept. 29-Jan. 11, 2013
    • Ducks: Daily limit of seven ducks or mergansers; possession limit twice the daily limit. Daily bag limit can’t include more than: two hen mallards, two pintails, two redheads, and one canvasback.
    • Coots: 25 daily and in possession.
    • Geese: Dark–four daily; possession limit twice the daily limit. White–10 daily, possession limit twice the daily limit.
  • Swan (500 permits only) Season—Oct. 13-Dec. 1
  • Falconry—Ducks, coots, and geese: Sept. 29-Jan 11, 2013

Central Flyway—Option I

  • Youth Waterfowl Season—Sept. 22-23
  • Duck and Coot Season—Sept. 29-Jan. 3, 2013
    • Ducks: Daily limit of six ducks or mergansers; possession limit twice the daily limit. The daily bag limit can’t include more than five mallards, no more than two of which may be hens; two redheads; two hooded mergansers; three wood ducks; two pintails; and one canvasback.
    • Coots: 15 daily; possession limit twice the daily limit.
  • Goose Season—Sept. 29-Jan. 11, 2013
    • Geese: Dark–five daily; possession limit twice the daily limit. White–20 daily, possession limit twice the daily limit.
  • Tundra Swan (500 permits only)—Sept. 29-Jan. 3, 2013
  • Falconry— Ducks and coots: Sept. 23-Jan. 3, 2013. Geese: Sept. 29-Jan. 11, 2013

Central Flyway—Option II

  • Youth season, bag limits, possession limits, and tundra swan season are the same as under Option I.
  • Duck and Coot Season—Sept. 29-Oct. 14 & Oct. 31-Jan. 19, 2013
  • Goose Season—Sept. 29-Oct. 14 & Oct. 31-Jan. 27, 2013
  • Falconry—Ducks and Coots: Sept. 23-Oct. 14, & Oct. 31-Jan. 19, 2013. Geese: Sept. 29-Oct.14, & Oct. 31-Jan. 27, 2013

Comments on waterfowl regulations must be received by 5 p.m. Aug. 27. Comment via FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov .  Click “For Hunters” then click “Public Comment Opportunities“. Or mail to: FWP – Wildlife Bureau, Attn: Public Comment, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. For more information, call: 406-444-2612. Final approval of the proposed 2012-13 late season migratory bird regulations is scheduled for Aug. 30 via a FWP Commission conference call.

For online information on the federal duck and wetland report, visit flyways.us.

Logo courtesy of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

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