Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Goose bag limit jump unlikely after flyway meeting

Bemidji, Minn. – A proposal by the DNR to simplify Canada goose
regulations and increase the daily bag limit across much of the
state has run into a roadblock called the Mississippi Flyway
Council.

During summer flyway meetings last week in Wisconsin, Steve
Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, presented to the council the
state’s proposal for an 85-day waterfowl season and three-goose
daily limit in most of the state. A special zone in the
west-central part of the state around Lac qui Parle would be
maintained.

The council did not support the agency’s proposal, “which wasn’t
terribly surprising, I guess,” Cordts said. “What that means is
that we likely will end up with a season similar to last year as
far as regulations.”

After a week of meetings, the flyway made a number of
recommendations to the Service Regulations Committee of the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service, which was meeting this week. By the end
of this week or early next, the Service will unveil the waterfowl
season frameworks for this fall.

And by the end of next week, the DNR will have decided on the
seasons that waterfowl hunters in Minnesota will be offered.

The Mississippi Flyway Council recommended a full waterfowl
season of 60 days with a six-duck daily limit.

The flyway also recommended a 60-day bluebill season, with a
two-bird daily bag, and a 60-day pintail season with a one-bird
daily bag. It recommended a 60-day canvasback season, with a bag
limit of one per day, and a 60-day wood duck season, with a
three-bird daily bag limit.

“Assuming all of that flies with the Service this week, that
still doesn’t tie us in Minnesota to any of those regulations,”
Cordts said.

Indeed, the state has opted at times for a more conservative
approach than what federal frameworks have allowed.

In the recent past, it chose to go with a four-bird daily bag
limit, though the Service offered six days, and last year it chose
to stay with a two-bird limit for wood ducks even though the
Service offered states the options of increasing the limit to three
per day.

It’s unclear whether the DNR will opt to increase the wood duck
limit this year, but it seems likely hunters will have the
opportunity to take a canvasback each day (the season was closed
last year), and won’t have to worry about bluebill bag limits
changing during the middle of the season (last year, the limit was
one per day for part of the season, two per day for the other part
of the season).

The goose decision

The flyway council seemed to have issues with the timing of the
DNR’s proposal for Canada geese, Cordts said.

Some states that hunt other goose populations – the Mississippi
Valley and Southern James Bay – are in the middle of five-year
experiments with liberalized hunting regulations. In Minnesota,
which has the Eastern Prairie Population of geese, regulations were
changed on an experimental basis three years ago.

Following that, the DNR proposed to eliminate many of the
state’s goose zones and increase the daily bag limit to three
birds, effective this fall.

But the Service Regulations Committee generally follows the
flyway’s recommendations on geese, so a different season structure
this fall “is probably somewhat doubtful,” Cordts said.

Some of the other states thought Mississippi Flyway states
should try to coordinate Canada goose management across the flyway.
Currently, there is little coordination regarding goose bags and
season lengths.

Cordts figures geese will be a topic of discussion at winter
flyway meetings, and says the DNR likely will propose its goose
changes again next year – even though some states still will be in
the middle of their experimental regulations.

“We’re not just going to sit and wait and let some of these
(other states with different) goose populations complete their
five-year experiments,” Cordts said.

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