The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently announced a proposed 60-day duck hunting season and six-duck daily bag limit for the upcoming 2012-13 late waterfowl season in the Mississippi Flyway, which extends across Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The Service also proposed geese hunting season lengths and bag limits that vary by state and area.
The proposed late season waterfowl frameworks will appear in a mid-August edition of the Federal Register for public comment. States select their individual seasons from within the federal frameworks that establish the earliest beginning and latest ending dates and the maximum season length and bag limits.
A duck hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days between September 22, 2012, and January 27, 2013. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, one mottled duck, two redheads, four scaup, two pintails, one black duck, and one canvasback. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is five, only two of which may be hooded mergansers. In states that include mergansers in the duck bag limit, the daily limit is the same as the duck bag limit, only two which may be hooded mergansers.
Generally, seasons for Canada goose would be held between September 22, 2012, and January 31, 2013, and vary in length among states and areas. States would be able to select seasons for light geese not to exceed 107 days with 20 geese daily between September 22, 2012, and March 10, 2013; for white-fronted geese the proposed season would not exceed 74 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 88 days with a one-bird daily bag limit between September 22, 2012, and February 17, 2013; and for brant it would not exceed 70 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a one-bird daily bag limit between September 22, 2012, and January 31, 2012. There is no possession limit for light geese.
The Service's 2012 Waterfowl Population Status Report summarizes information on the status of duck and goose populations and habitat conditions during spring of 2012. In the traditional survey area, which includes the north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada and Alaska, the 2012 total duck population estimate was 48.6 million birds, an increase of 7 percent over last year's estimate. Despite poorer habitat conditions compared to 2011, population abundance estimates are good for this breeding season. The total pond estimate for prairie Canada and the US combined was 5.5 million, which is down 32 percent from last year.
The annual survey results guide the Service's waterfowl conservation programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Each year the Service works in partnership with states from the four flyways to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates, and bag limits. All of this information represents the largest data set on any wildlife species group in the world and helps provide hunting opportunities while ensuring the long-term health of waterfowl populations.
The Status of Waterfowl report can be found at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/. To view a video of the Status of Waterfowl video visit: http://flyways.us/status-of-waterfowl/video-report/.
The mission of the Service's Migratory Bird Program is to ensure long-term ecological sustainability of migratory bird populations and their habitats for future generations, through careful monitoring, effective management, and by supporting national and international partnerships that conserve habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.