Sunday, February 5th, 2023
Sunday, February 5th, 2023

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Feds: State duck hunter numbers, kill up in ’08

Washington – U.S. waterfowl hunters killed about 13.7 million
ducks last season, a drop from 2007, when they killed nearly 14.6
million ducks.

Like the harvest, the number of hunters who targeted waterfowl
in 2008 in the U.S. – 980,500 – was down from 2007, when there were
995,700 who did so, according to a report released last week by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The report is based on results of Harvest Information Program
surveys for the two years. The data in the report show Minnesota
bucked the harvest and hunter numbers trends.

The total duck harvest in the state in 2008 was 584,000, which
is an increase of about 3 percent from the 564,000 ducks hunters
killed in 2007. The report showed the number of hunters increased,
too, from 70,200 in 2007 to 71,700 in 2008.

Statistically, there is little difference between 2007 and
2008.

The Minnesota DNR conducts its own estimates of harvest and
hunter numbers. Those results should be available soon, but Dennis
Simon, DNR_Wildlife Section chief, doesn’t expect them to paint a
different picture than do the federal numbers.

“From all reports we heard last year, it really turned out to be
a little better duck harvest season than people were anticipating
going into the duck season,” he said. “I would anticipate (the
state numbers will show) a small increase, but nothing
significant.”

Wood ducks

The wood duck harvest held particular intrigue for Simon, since
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allowed states to increase the
limit last year by one – from two to three per day.

Minnesota was second in the flyway in wood duck harvest in 2007,
behind Louisiana, which is typical. But last year, hunters in both
Louisiana and Wisconsin took more wood ducks than did hunters in
Minnesota.

Minnesota hunters took 80,981 in 2007, according to the report,
and 78,949 last year. Louisiana hunters killed 114,920 in 2007 and
152,856 last year; Wisconsin hunters took 67,889 in 2007 and 81,034
last year.

While Minnesota last year opted to maintain a two-bird per day
limit of wood ducks, both Louisiana and Wisconsin increased their
daily limits to three. Another likely reason why Minnesota’s wood
duck harvest sagged last year: the timing of opening day.

“The later in the calendar year that opening day is, the fewer
wood ducks we harvest,” Simon said. “That (likely) will be true
again this year with an Oct. 3 opening day.”

Total duck harvest

Following are harvest and hunter numbers from other states,
according to the USFWS report:

€ Iowa: Harvest fell from 232,800 in 2007 to 206,100 in 2008.
Hunters numbers also fell in 2008, from 20,400 to 18,800.

€ Louisiana: Harvest increased from 1.5 million in 2007 to 1.75
million in 2008. Hunter numbers also went up, from 62,300 in 2007
to 68,800 in 2008.

€ North Dakota: Harvest fell from 373,000 in 2007 to 288,300 in
2008. Hunter numbers declined from 32,200 in 2007 to 26,200 in
2008.

€ South Dakota: Harvest declined from 182,900 in 2007 to 169,500
in 2008. The number of hunters fell, too, from 14,500 in 2007 to
14,200 in 2008.

€ Wisconsin: Harvest fell from 431,200 in 2007 to 382,500 in
2008. Hunters numbers also dropped, from 60,900 in 2007 to 58,500
in ’08.

€ Mississippi Flyway: Harvest dropped from 6.7 million in 2007
to 6.5 million in 2008. The number of hunters dropped as well, from
474,400 in 2007 to 466,400 in 2008.

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