Concerned’ duck group preparing to reconvene

Associate Editor

Duluth, Minn. About a year ago, a group of avid waterfowlers
concerned about the direction of duck hunting and associated
regulations got together and drew up a series of proposals to
address the concerns. Now, they’re about ready to move on them.

“We want to figure out how to move from concepts to practical
application,” said Dave Zentner, of Duluth, a founding member of
the Concerned Duck Hunters Panel, which also includes names
Minnesotans often associate with waterfowl management, including
former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Art Hawkins, former
head of the Minnesota DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife Roger
Holmes, former Outdoor News Man of the Year and USFWS biologist
Harvey Nelson, and Outdoor News columnist Shawn Perich.

After meeting late in 2003, the CDHP “opened itself to the
world” early this year by offering its list of proposals. Recently,
Zentner said a memo was sent to members who are “letting ideas
marinate through the duck season” before meeting again late this
year.

Zentner chronicled his ideas on waterfowl and hunting in 2003
and sent them to prominent members of the duck hunting community,
prompting the first get-together. Many of those members have
backgrounds in waterfowl management at the state and federal
levels. Zentner, a former president of the Izaak Walton League of
America said he “has a Ph.D from 60 years of duck hunting.”

Through his essay, “Are we shooting too many ducks?” Zentner
“wished to initiate a discussion regarding what he saw as a gradual
erosion of duck hunting’s conservation ethic due to an increasing
liberal approach to duck hunting seasons and regulations.”

Other members of the CDHP agreed and stated “We believe our
collective voice is more likely to receive consideration from the
management establishment than individual efforts,” in its mission
statement.

Recommendations from the panel touched on a number of things,
including the following.

Electronic devices: The recommendation is to prohibit the use of
any electronic devices except in the situation where the goal is
population control. “Fair chase is also an issue with the potential
to diminish the core value and quality of duck hunting,” the group
wrote.

Shooting hours: Establish shooting hours from sunrise to sunset
to “encourage hunters to wait for better light conditions and
encourage proper duck identification.”

Season framework: Begin the season frame work on the Saturday
nearest Oct. 1 and end the season framework by Jan. 20 because A)
the season was extended for political reasons, not scientific, and
B) “studies have shown that hunting harvest during the early and
late extended periods has negative effects on breeding
populations.”

Ethical considerations: Hunters should include “downed” birds in
the daily “ethical” bag limit. The liberal bag limit, under the
CDHP’s recommendations, would be 50 days and include five ducks. A
restrictive season would include three ducks and 30 days, while a
moderate season would be 40 days with a four-duck limit.

Retrieval: Hunters should be allowed to carry uncased, loaded
guns in motor-driven watercraft while in pursuit of wounded birds,
and be allowed to shoot when the motor is shut off.

Waterfowl surveys: Adaptive Harvest Management, used by the
USFWS to set frameworks, relies on the status of mid-continent
mallards to determine the season framework. The CDHP recommended
the USFWS evaluate current breeding ground surveys and other
waterfowl surveys to determine if modifications to possibly refine
the ATM season-setting process.

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