Survey keeps hunting from becoming fowl

August 21, 2005|By Bill Anderson

For many years now, the state waterfowl seasons have been set based upon a framework that the state receives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The framework is new each season and is set up after a scientific survey of the major duck-breeding areas in the U.S. and Canada.

Many factors affect the duck-breeding success each year, but none of them are more important than water. A wet year makes for a good nesting habitat, and a dry spring has the opposite effect.

Several consecutive years of low rainfall make for a very bad situation. This was the case in the 1980s, when seasons were shortened and bag limits on many species were cut severely.

The following are some of the highlights of the statement issued by the USFWS on the federal framework for the 2005-06 seasons.


Mid-Atlantic Flyway Duck Season - The framework for our area is as follows: A hunting season of not more than 60 days (30 days for canvasbacks) between Sept. 24, 2005, and Jan. 29, 2006. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four mallards (two hens), two wood ducks, two scaup, two redheads, one black duck, one pintail, one mottled duck, one fulvous whistling duck, one canvasback and four scoters. The season on harlequin ducks is closed.

Mid-Atlantic Flyway Goose Season - For light geese (snow geese), states may select a 107-day season between Oct. 1, 2005 and March 10, 2006, with a daily bag limit of 15 geese and no possession limit.

For Atlantic Population Canada geese (the migratory Canada geese), portions of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and New York will be allowed to hold a 45-day season between Oct. 22, 2005 and Jan. 31, 2006, with a three-bird daily bag limit. Delaware, Maryland and Virginia (except Back Bay) will be allowed to hold a 45-day season in Atlantic Population areas between Nov. 15, 2005 and Jan. 31, 2006, with a two-bird bag limit.

Special or experimental seasons and regular seasons to harvest resident and other populations of nonmigratory Canada geese are authorized in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

The system is not perfect, but it does seem to work. As is the case in nearly all wildlife management, the seasons and bag limits are under constant review to try to make sure that the biologists are balancing recreational opportunities for hunters with the best interest of the wildlife resources.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail.

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