Duck season of 60 days is likely

Madison — With high continental duck and wetland numbers, the DNR’s waterfowl biologists expect a 60-day duck season similar to recent years, but with the possibility of bag limit changes for certain species.

This information comes after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released continental duck numbers in the “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations” report July 12.

“This continental survey information is an essential piece in determining Wisconsin’s waterfowl season frameworks,” said Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist. “The information we are seeing is promising for the upcoming season.”

The 2013 North American total duck population estimate was 45.6 million, which is the second highest on record and 33 percent above the long-term average. The 2012 estimate was the highest estimate on record and 6 percent above 2013.

Wetland numbers across the survey area were up from last year and were 35 percent above the long-term average.

Mallard numbers were estimated at 10.4 million, similar to last year and 36 percent above the long-term average. Most other species estimates were above or at the long-term average.

“With high mallard numbers and good wetland conditions, we are confident there will be a 60-day duck season,” Van Horn said. “However, hunters should be aware of potential bag limit changes for canvasback and scaup. While canvasback and scaup make up a relatively small percentage of the overall Wisconsin harvest, these species are important to many duck hunters. We may see changes to their daily bag limits in 2013.”

Breeding canvasbacks were estimated at 787,000, similar to 2012 counts and 37 percent above the long-term average. This may allow for an increase to a two-canvasback daily bag.

Scaup estimates were at 4.2 million, which was 20 percent below 2012 and 17 percent below the long-term average. This is similar to most recent years. The scaup harvest strategy is expected to call for a return to a two-bird daily bag limit from last year’s four-bird bag.

The Canada geese that breed in northern Ontario, known as the Mississippi Valley Population, make up about 60 percent of Wisconsin’s regular-season goose harvest. Surveys indicated good production and low nest predation.

Breeding estimates for 2013 were at 319,693. This is up 16 percent from last year, but is still 10 percent below the long-term average after several prior years with lower recruitment.

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