Feds propose liberal waterfowl frameworks

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service this afternoon said it again is proposing the “liberal” package of regulations for this fall’s late waterfowl seasons.

States then will select their individual seasons from within the federal frameworks that establish the earliest beginning and latest ending dates and maximum season lengths and bag limits.

Despite the ongoing loss of grassland and wetland habitat, duck populations remain substantially higher than long-term averages. According to the Service’s 2014 Waterfowl Population Status Report, the estimated spring continental duck population was 49.2 million, up 8 percent from last year’s 45.6 million and 43 percent higher than the long-term average from 1955 to 2013.

Here’s a look at the recommended frameworks for the Central Flyway, which includes North Dakota, and the Mississippi Flyway, of which Minnesota is a member.

Central Flyway
(Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming):

Ducks: Duck season frameworks are between Sept. 27, 2014 and Jan. 25, 2015. The daily bag limit is 6 ducks, with species and sex restrictions as follows: 5 mallards, no more than 2 of which may be females; 3 wood ducks, 3 scaup, 2 pintails, 2 redheads, 1 canvasback, and 1 mottled duck. Mottled ducks may not be harvested during the first 5 days of the regular season in Texas. In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit (roughly west of the 100th Meridian), a 97-day season is proposed, and the last 23 days can start no earlier than Dec. 13, 2014. A 74-day season is proposed for the remainder of the Central Flyway.

Geese: States may select seasons between Sept. 27, 2014 and Feb. 15, 2015, for dark geese and between Sept. 27, 2014, and March 10, 2015, for light geese. East-tier states are able to select a 107-day season for Canada geese with a daily bag limit of 8. For white-fronted geese, east-tier states will be able to select either a 74-day season with a daily bag limit of 2 birds or an 88 day season with a daily bag limit of 1 bird. In the west-tier, states may select a 107-day dark goose season with a daily bag limit of 5 birds. In the Western Goose Zone of Texas, the state could select a 95-day season with a daily bag limit of 5 dark geese (including no more than 1 white-fronted goose). For light geese, all states would be able to select a 107-day season with a daily bag limit of 50.

Mississippi Flyway
(Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin):

Ducks: A hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days between Sept. 27, 2014, and Jan. 25, 2015. The proposed daily bag limit is 6 and may include no more than 4 mallards (2 hens), 3 wood ducks, 1 mottled duck, 2 redheads, 3 scaup, 2 pintails, 1 black duck, and 1 canvasback. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is 5, only 2 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 2 which may be hooded mergansers.

Geese: Generally, seasons for Canada goose would be held between Sept. 27, 2014, and Jan. 31, 2015, 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 Sept. 27, 2014, and March 10, 2015; for white-fronted goose the proposed season would not exceed 74 days with a 2-bird daily bag limit or 88 days with a 1-bird daily bag limit between Sept. 27, 2014, and Feb. 15, 2015; and for brant it would not exceed 70 days with a 1-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a 1 bird daily bag limit between Sept. 27, 2014, and Jan. 31, 2015.

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