More Ducks, More Days: USFWS Authorizes Liberal Waterfowl Regulations
Tyler Shoberg, Associate Editor on 08/12/2014
Waterfowlers might want to consider buying an extra case of shells. On the heels of a record spring duck population index, high goose numbers and favorable breeding conditions, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed liberal hunting season lengths and bag limits for the upcoming 2014-15 waterfowl season.
“With record numbers of ducks returning to a prairie landscape covered in water, production likely was high,” said Frank Rohwer, Delta Waterfowl president. “Goose numbers continue to be strong, too. With liberalized seasons and a healthy fall flight heading their way, hunters will have ample opportunity to chase their favorite target species in the coming months.”
Waterfowl hunting frameworks are set annually using population surveys, banding programs and harvest surveys. USFWS works alongside state agencies to establish waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates and bag limits. Look for your state to finalize its waterfowl hunting regulations in the next couple of weeks.
Duck Seasons and Limits
The proposed federal framework includes duck hunting season lengths of 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, and 74 days in the Central Flyway with an additional 23 days in the High Plains areas. The Pacific Flyway is allotted 107 days — the maximum duration allowed under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
In any given state, duck hunting seasons can run between Sept. 27, 2014 and Jan. 25, 2015. Daily bag limits are six ducks for every flyway except the Pacific, where hunters can take seven.
Atlantic and Mississippi Flyway hunters can shoot four mallards, Central Flyway hunters can bag five, and a Pacific Flyway hunter’s entire bag can consist of greenheads. No more than two can be hens.
Redhead and northern pintail limits remain two daily, however the canvasback limit has dropped to one. The daily limit on scaup — greater and lesser combined — is three everywhere except the Atlantic Flyway, where hunters can only shoot two. The limit for wood ducks in the Atlantic, Mississippi and Central flyways is three daily. Black duck and mottled duck limits remain at one.
Goose Seasons and Limits
Proposed goose seasons and limits vary widely by flyway, and even more by state. The lone constant is with light geese — snow geese and Ross’s geese — which were allotted 107-day seasons.
Atlantic Flyway states are allowed light goose daily bag limits of 25, with no possession limit. Canada goose seasons vary in length depending on populations. Atlantic brant seasons can be 30 days with a daily limit of two.
In the Mississippi Flyway, the light-goose daily bag is 20 birds. White-fronted geese can be hunted 74 days with a two-bird limit, or 88 days with a one-bird limit. The brant limit remains at one daily. Seasons for Canada geese vary in length among states.
Central Flyway seasons for Canada geese can run 107 days, with a daily bag of eight in east-tier states or five in west-tier states. In Texas’ Western Goose Zone, the state could select a 95-day season with a daily dark goose limit of five, including no more than one whitefront. The daily bag limit on light geese is 50.
Pacific Flyway states may select a 107-day season for all species except brant. Proposed daily limits are 20 light geese, 10 white-fronted geese, and four Canada geese. For brant, the proposed season lengths are 16 days in Oregon and Washington, and 30 days in California, with a two-bird daily limit.