Feds seek comment on a waterfowl plan

By Tim Spielman Associate Editor

Minneapolis — It isn’t often the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
conducts a full review of issues surrounding waterfowl. But it’s
doing so this year, and if Wisconsin hunters want to file comments
in person, they will have to attend a meeting April 20 in
Bloomington, Minn.

The last time the USFWS prepared an Environmental Impact
Statement for the Sport Hunting of Migratory Birds was 1988,
according to Steve Wilds, chief of the Division of Migratory Birds
for the USFWS at Fort Snelling, Minn.

In essence, it’s a unique opportunity for waterfowlers to tell
the USFWS what should be included when hunting policy is set in
years to come.

“We encourage people to come and find out what we’re doing and
offer comments on what they think should be in the EIS,” Wilds
said. “That’s really the purpose of the meetings.”

Much has changed in the world of waterfowling since the last
(supplemental) EIS for waterfowling 18 years ago, he said.

A couple of examples are Adaptive Harvest Management (the
USFWS’s method for setting duck-hunting parameters) as well as the
hunting of the now-burgeoning resident giant Canada goose
population.

Wilds said the agency could have a draft of the latest EIS in
about a year.

According to a notice from the USFWS, “We seek comments on the
following: 1) Harvest management alternatives to migratory
gamebirds being considered; 2) limiting the scope of the assessment
to sport hunting (i.e., exclusion of the Alaska migratory bird
subsistence process; and 3) inclusion of basic regulations (methods
and means).

Certainly some things have changed since the late 1980s.

“In 1988, we talked about the goals and objectives of the
service, and how regs had evolved,” Wilds said. “We set up guidance
on how to deal with split seasons and zones and ‘bonus’ birds.

“I’m sure (this time) people will want to talk about things like
seasons within seasons (for some duck species, like canvasbacks and
pintails),” he said.

Wilds said the upcoming meetings (which got under way on March
24 in Ohio) will “address all aspects of migratory bird hunting,”
as well as the impacts of any actions.

Topics likely to arise at the meetings include hot-button issues
like spinning-wing decoys and shortened seasons for less numerous
species, Wilds said.

The April 20 meeting in Bloomington, Minn., will be held
beginning at 7 p.m. at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife
Refuge Visitors Center.

Written comments are due from the public by May 30. Send
comments to: Chief, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, Department of the Interior, MS
MBSP-4107-ARLSQ, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240. Comments
also may be faxed to (703) 358-2217 or emailed to huntingseis@fws.gov.

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