USFWS unveils proposal for 2016 duck, goose framework

Lansing — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last month its proposal for another liberal migratory bird-hunting season framework in 2016.

In Michigan and the Mississippi Flyway, that means 60 days and a six-bird daily bag. Unless something changes as a result of a comment period that was open through Jan. 11, Michigan’s duck and goose seasons in 2016 will be very similar to last year.

“The only change we will see is in the Canada goose framework,” said Barb Avers, Michigan DNR waterfowl specialist. “They have liberalized the season. We have 107 days to work with between Sept. 1 and Feb. 15. Also, for the entire month of September we can have a five-bird daily limit, and after Sept. 30 we can have a three-bird limit instead of two.”

As a result of the regulations-setting process used previously, the USFWS didn’t propose seasons until late summer, leaving little time for comment and planning hunting trips. Under this new process, the agency will finalize regulations on or around Feb. 28.

“Beginning with the 2016-17 hunting seasons, the previous two-cycle regulatory practice is now compressed into a single, annual process,” according to a USFWS news release. “Biological data from the past year is now used to set hunting season dates and to project appropriate harvest limits for each game species. The change gives biologists more time to analyze bird survey data that inform the (USFWS’s) regulatory decisions and gives the public more time to weigh in on proposed rules.”

Avers said the DNR hopes to finalize regulations for the 2016 season in March. 

“We plan to bring our recommendations to the Natural Resources Commission in February, for action on it in March,” she said. “The best news about this new schedule is that we will know the season framework well in advance, which will allow waterfowlers to plan their hunts easier.”

Editor Bill Parker contributed to this story.

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