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Maryland DNR releases proposed dates for late waterfowl seasons

OUTDOORS -

August 24, 2008|By BILL ANDERSON

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources has released the proposed season dates and bag limits for the late portion of the 2008-2009 waterfowl seasons. The seasons are established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, and each state then sets season dates within a framework that they receive from the feds.

The general hunting picture for waterfowl hunters in 2008 is a positive one. The proposed 2008-2009 duck season will be a 60-day season with a daily bag limit of six. The bag limits for each species are based upon population status and breeding habitat and brood success in the major prairie nesting areas in the U.S. and Canada.

Based on excellent nesting conditions, waterfowl managers propose increasing the daily bag limit of wood ducks to three per day. A recent review of the biological data for this species indicates that the wood duck population can sustain some additional harvest pressure.

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There will be no open season on canvasback ducks this year after breeding population estimates decreased 44 percent from 2007, primarily the result of a 39 percent decline in pond numbers in Canada's prairies. Dry conditions exist throughout much of the Canadian prairies and the northcentral United States, leaving the overall outlook for the king of ducks bleak.

The news is mostly good for hunters of geese. The 2008 spring breeding pair survey of the Atlantic Population (migrant) Canada geese totaled 169,700, down from 195,700 in 2007. Although the number of breeding pairs decreased, generally favorable nesting conditions led to a strong nesting effort. Gosling production is expected to be good, so the Atlantic Population Canada goose season, which includes the traditional goose hunting areas on the Eastern Shore, will remain at 45 days with a daily bag limit of two.

The proposed waterfowl hunting regulations also include changes to the regular Atlantic Flyway Resident Canada goose season. The season length for the AFRP Canada geese has been increased from 70 to 80 days and the closing federal framework date has been extended to March 10, 2009 to increase the harvest of the large numbers of resident geese in the state.

The proposed AFRP Canada goose season dates are Nov. 15 to 28 and Dec. 16, 2008 to March 4, 2009. The daily bag limit is five. The AFRP Canada Goose Hunt Zone also has been modified to afford additional protection to migrant AP geese. Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Howard counties and a portion of Carroll County now will be a part of the AP Hunt Zone. Allegany, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery and Washington counties are currently in the AP Hunt Zone.

Bill Anderson writes a weekly outdoors column for The Herald-Mail. He can be reached by e-mail at bill@weekend-sportsman.com

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