Friday, February 3rd, 2023
Friday, February 3rd, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Waterfowlers could get 60 days to hunt ducks

Public hearings are this week

Staff Report

Madison – State waterfowl hunters could be looking at a 60-day
duck season and an 85-day Canada goose season in the Exterior Zone
if hunters support that plan and the DNR passes it along as a
recommendation to the Natural Resources Board.

August is always a busy month for waterfowl biologists and
hunters, as a series of meetings and hearings play roles in setting
the annual duck and goose hunting seasons.

Now that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has offered its
framework (60 days, six ducks), state biologists, waterfowl
hunters, and NRB members will work on setting up a Wisconsin
waterfowl season.

The NRB ultimately will set the final season framework on Aug.
15 when members meet at the Port Superior Marina, just south of
Bayfield. That meeting begins at at 8:30 a.m.

Before that meeting, however, waterfowl hunters and conservation
groups can have a say in this year’s waterfowl season by attending
a series of public hearings this week.

The first meeting was to have been Monday, Aug. 6 in La
Crosse.

All hearings begin at 7 p.m. The remaining three hearing dates
and locations are:

Aug. 7, Rice Lake – Room R228, Meggers Hall, UW-Barron County,
1800 College Drive;

Aug. 8, Appleton – Main Conference Room, Agricultural Services
Center, 3369 W. Brewster St.;

Aug. 9, Waukesha – Main Conference Room, State Office Bldg.,
141 N.W. Barstow St.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress Migratory Waterfowl
Committee met with the DNR on Aug. 4 in Wausau to offer its input
on the season framework. That meeting was followed by meetings with
the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation,
the La Crosse County Conservation Alliance, and other state
conservation groups.

‘The opportunity for public input into the state process for
setting waterfowl seasons is short because of the timing of the
federal waterfowl regulatory process,’ said Kent Van Horn, DNR
migratory game bird ecologist. ‘However, we do our best to get out
and hear from folks during this short period. We welcome comment on
season proposals via public hearing, phone calls, letters, or
emails until Aug. 9.’

Sportsmen’s last chance to have input in the waterfowl season
framework would be on Wednesday, Aug. 15, before the NRB during the
board’s public participation portion of the meeting. To register
for that opportunity, sportsmen must contact NRB staff assistant
Laurie Ross at (608) 267-7420.

USFWS proposal

Following the Mississippi Flyway Council meeting in Ohio this
year, the USFWS offered Wisconsin a 60-day day duck season and
85-day Canada goose season in the Exterior Zone with a two-goose
daily bag limit, six tags in the Horicon and Collins Canada goose
zones.

‘This proposal reflects very positive duck and goose populations
across the continent in 2007 and efforts by state biologists to
provide abundant waterfowl-hunting opportunity. If water conditions
improve before fall across a currently dry Wisconsin, we should
have a good waterfowl hunting season,’ said Kent Van Horn, who
attended the flyway council meeting to represent the state.

Van Horn said special considerations this year include abundant
blue-winged teal and green-winged teal populations, which should
provide good hunting early in the season, and the creation of
Canada goose seasons for a five-year trial framework of days and
bag limit. Also, the feds will offer an increased bag of two
canvasbacks daily The scaup limit, after some deliberation, will
remain at a daily bag of three. No other notable bag limit changes
will occur.

The Mississippi Flyway Council, which is made up of waterfowl
specialists from Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri,
Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, and the Canadian provinces of
Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan, meets each summer to review
the latest science on waterfowl populations and advise the USFWS on
regulations before the federal agency sets a framework under which
states can set waterfowl hunting seasons.

DNR proposal

The state’s preliminary proposal calls for an Exterior Zone
goose season that would run Sept. 16-21 and Sept. 22 at 9 a.m.
through Dec. 9 in the North Zone, with a daily bag limit of two;
and Sept. 16-28 and Sept. 29 at 9 a.m. through Dec. 9 in the South
Zone, also with a daily bag limit of two.

The Mississippi River Subzone season would open Sept. 29 at 9
a.m. and run through Oct. 7 and reopen Oct. 13 to run through Dec.
27, with a daily bag limit of two geese.

The Horicon and Collins zone hunting periods would begin Sept.
16, with six tags issued for each hunting period and a daily bag
limit of two.

The duck season would open Sept. 22 at 9 a.m. in the Northern
Zone and run straight through until Nov 20. The Southern Zone would
open Sept. 29 at 9 a.m. and run through Oct. 7, and then reopen
Oct. 13 and run through Dec. 2. The daily bag limit would be six
ducks to include not more than four mallards (only one hen), one
black duck, two redheads, two wood ducks, two scaup, one pintail
and possibly two canvasbacks. The season would allow five
mergansers (not more than two hooded mergansers). The coot bag
limit would be 15.

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