Feds won't restrict waterfowl harvest due to oil damage in Gulf
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said earlier this afternoon that it has no plans to restrict waterfowl harvest quotas for the 2010 hunting seasons due to the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico.
Waterfowlers across the country have been monitoring the habitat damage the oil leak is causing in the Gulf, and with good reason. Waterfowl, shorebirds, neo-tropical songbirds and many other species annually migrate to the Gulf for winter nesting and breeding.
Some of those shorebird flights begin as early as this month. Blue-winged teal will begin moving south in August and between September and February, thousands of other migratory species, including big numbers of redheads and scaup, will migrate to the Gulf.
As far as potential impacts to waterfowl hunting seasons, Paul Schmidt, assistant director for migratory birds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a conference call earlier this afternoon, “We do not feel that immediate harvest reductions are warranted at this time.” Schmidt added that FWS and others will continue to monitor the events unfolding in the Gulf and that, “if something surprises us, we are prepared to act.”
Schmidt said that although the oil leak has devastated areas of the Gulf, his agency is treating it like a “disease outbreak or a hurricane,” rather than a disaster with potential to severely impact a broad range and large number of species.