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Dateline: Houston Chronicle

'Hunter's choice' comes to Texas this fall!!...........


Duck Hunter's Choice!! ...........

By SHANNON TOMPKINS

Five-duck allotment

Hunter's choice was designed and pushed by waterfowl managers in the Central Flyway as a way to reduce harvest of duck species with population problems while allowing the most opportunity to take species with thriving populations, said Paul Schmidt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assistant director for migratory birds.

Under hunter's choice, Texas hunters will be allowed a daily, aggregate bag limit of five ducks over a 74-day season. Those five ducks can include no more than two redheads, two scaup and two wood ducks. And that hunters will be allowed to take only one duck from the following group: mallard hen, "dusky" (mottled, black, Mexican) duck, canvasback, pintail.

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In Central Flyway states not under hunter's choice, the daily bag limit will be six ducks, with the same two-duck restriction on redheads, wood ducks and scaup. But hunters there will be allowed to take a maximum of two mallard hens. Canvasbacks and pintails will be legal game during only 39 days of the 74-day duck season, with a one-bird daily limit on each species.

Texas, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Kansas are the five Central Flyway states that will operate under the hunter's choice bag limit.

Other Central Flyway states will operate under the "season-within-a-season" structure for canvasbacks and pintails, two species of concern to managers.

The service regulations committee approved the hunter's choice duck bag limit as an experimental season.Texas and the four other states where it will be used this year are committed to keeping it in place for at least three hunting seasons.

Waterfowl managers will judge the impact of the hunter's choice through harvest surveys and hunter attitude surveys, Schmidt and Morrison said.

Protecting scaup

During the service regulations committee meeting this past Wednesday, federal waterfowl managers recommended cutting the daily bag limit on scaup from the current two-bird maximum (imposed just a couple of seasons ago) to one scaup per day. Scaup populations have been declining for more than a decade and spring breeding populations have hit record lows for two consecutive years.

Scientists continue puzzling over the decline of scaups.

"We've put a lot of effort into trying to get at the causes of the decline," Schmidt said. "It could have something to do with habitat changes in breeding areas — changes due to global warming. It could have something to do with changes in their prey base; there's a whole host of potential causes." But hunting's not one of those causes. This year's scaup breeding population is about 3.2 million birds, and annual harvest has been around 300,000. For perspective, the gadwall breeding population is about 2.8 million, with an annual hunter harvest of 1.3 million.

"Harvest (of scaup) is not significant enough to cause the decline," Schmidt said. The regulations committee opted to maintain the two-scaup daily bag limit. But federal and state waterfowl managers at the meetings agreed that serious work has to be focused on scaup issues from nesting grounds, along migration corridors and on wintering areas. Mottled ducks, endemic only to the Gulf Coast and an important bird to Texas waterfowlers on coastal marsh and prairies, also are a species of concern, Schmidt said. Mottled duck populations have declined over the past couple of decades. But just how much remains a question. Steep declines have been documented in some parts of its range. Research in other areas indicate mottled duck numbers stable or slightly declining. Waterfowl managers are working to develop a long-term, range-wide research effort to gather population data — breeding populations, nest success and recruitment, harvest, etc.— on the birds.

Click here to read full press release............



More News......

Dateline: GrandForksHerald.com

By Brad Dokken
Herald Staff Writer

WATERFOWL: 'Hunter's Choice' set to fly in N.D.!!...........


Service OKs liberal regulations; N.D. season likely to begin Sept. 23, Minnesota's on Sept. 30..... ...........

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has approved a "Hunter's Choice" aggregate duck limit for North Dakota and four other Central Flyway states during the 2006 waterfowl season.

The service also approved the "liberal" package of waterfowl regulations for the upcoming season. Federal waterfowl managers use a formula called Adaptive Harvest Management, which looks at spring mallard numbers and Canadian wetland conditions, to set fall hunting seasons.

Spring conditions were good enough to warrant the liberal package again this year, officials said. The other options are "moderate" and "restrictive" packages with shorter seasons and reduced bags.

Paul Schmidt, assistant director of migratory birds, made the announcement Friday during a conference call with outdoor writers from across the country. The liberal package means a maximum 74-day season in the Central Flyway and a 60-day season in the Mississippi Flyway, which includes Minnesota.

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With approval of the Hunter's Choice regulations, North Dakota hunters will have a five-duck limit instead of the traditional six that liberal regulations traditionally allow. Basically an aggregate limit, Hunter's Choice eliminates the "season within a season" for less abundant species such as pintails and canvasbacks. Hunters can have one mallard hen, one pintail or one canvasback in their five-bird bag.

Other species restrictions include a two-bird limit on scaup and wood ducks. In the category of abundant ducks, hunters can shoot five birds of such species as teal, wigeon and mallards, but only one of those mallards can be a hen.

Other Central Flyway states offering Hunter's Choice regulations are South Dakota, Wyoming, Texas and Kansas. The goal of the three-year experiment is to reduce the harvest of pintails and canvasbacks.

The remaining Central Flyway states will be "control" states adhering to the traditional limited seasons for pintails and canvasbacks.

"That's going to be really exciting to see how that works," said Randy Kreil, wildlife division chief for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Bismarck.

Approval of liberal regulations clears the way for North Dakota to open its duck season Sept. 23. Kreil said the state again this year is recommending to set aside the first week of season for resident hunters only. Nonresident hunters could begin hunting waterfowl Sept. 30.

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Despite drought conditions across North Dakota and other prairie pothole states, Kreil said he wasn't surprised the service opted for liberal regulations over the moderate or restrictive packages.

"What people need to realize is the factors that determine whether we're in a liberal package are the mallard population, which is still high, and the habitat on the Canadian prairies," Kreil said Friday. "Water conditions all across the prairies and boreal forest (of Canada) are excellent, so that is going to lend itself to very good duck production in Canada."

In Minnesota, the Department of Natural Resources again this year is expected to offer a 60-day season beginning Sept. 30, according to Steve Cordts, waterfowl staff specialist for the DNR in Bemidji. Bag limits have yet to be determined, Cordts said Friday, and the DNR likely will issue a news release with more information this week.

Minnesota last year had a four-duck limit, even though they could have offered six birds under the liberal package. That's likely to be the case this year, too, if spring population surveys are any indication. The DNR estimated spring mallard numbers in the state at 161,000 - 33 percent lower than 2005 and the lowest recorded since 1983.

Click here to read full press release............



More News......

Dateline: Lawrence Journal-World

Surveys find duck numbers up!!...........


Duck hunters should be smiling this fall...... ...........

Wildlife and Parks

Based on May surveys conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, western breeding ducks and habitats have increased 14 percent from last year.The preliminary report showed an estimated 36.2 million ducks on the prairies. Habitat conditions were also slightly better than last year, thanks to a warm winter and good precipitation.

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One of the most important elements in duck-breeding success is the amount of water present on the prairie breeding grounds. The May survey showed the U.S. and Canada with 6.1 million ponds, a 13 percent increase from last year’s estimate, and 26 percent higher than the long-term average.

Those numbers, along with timely precipitation this spring and summer, should create quality conditions for nesting and brood rearing this summer. Pintail numbers are up 32 percent although still 18 percent below the long-term average. Most other species increased this year as well.

Blue-winged teal jumped 28 percent with an estimated 5.9 million birds, 30 percent above the long-term average. Green-winged teal also climbed 20 percent to 2.6 million birds, 39 percent above the long-term average.

Other species include an estimated 2.8 million breeding gadwall, boosting their population by 30 percent from last year and 67 percent above the long-term average.

Redheads increased 55 percent with 916,000 birds, 47 percent above the long-term average. Meanwhile, canvasbacks jumped 33 percent from last year, with an estimated 691,000 breeding birds, 23 percent above the long-term average.

Northern shovelers multiplied to 3.7 million, 69 percent above the long-term average.

On a less positive note, some species increased at a slower rate. Mallard populations, for instance, showed only an 8 percent increase with an estimated 7.3 million on the prairies this spring, compared to last year’s estimate of 6.8 million mallards.

Also, wigeon numbers dropped 2 percent, to 2.2 million birds, 17 percent below the long-term average, and scaup slipped by 4 percent, continuing a long-term pattern that has persisted for the last 20 years. Scaup are now 37 percent below the long-term average.

Click here to read full press release............



More News......

Dateline: Houston Chronicle

'Hunter's choice' comes to Texas this fall!!...........


Duck Hunter's Choice!! ...........

By SHANNON TOMPKINS

Five-duck allotment

Hunter's choice was designed and pushed by waterfowl managers in the Central Flyway as a way to reduce harvest of duck species with population problems while allowing the most opportunity to take species with thriving populations, said Paul Schmidt, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assistant director for migratory birds.

Under hunter's choice, Texas hunters will be allowed a daily, aggregate bag limit of five ducks over a 74-day season. Those five ducks can include no more than two redheads, two scaup and two wood ducks. And that hunters will be allowed to take only one duck from the following group: mallard hen, "dusky" (mottled, black, Mexican) duck, canvasback, pintail.

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In Central Flyway states not under hunter's choice, the daily bag limit will be six ducks, with the same two-duck restriction on redheads, wood ducks and scaup. But hunters there will be allowed to take a maximum of two mallard hens. Canvasbacks and pintails will be legal game during only 39 days of the 74-day duck season, with a one-bird daily limit on each species.

Texas, North and South Dakota, Wyoming and Kansas are the five Central Flyway states that will operate under the hunter's choice bag limit.

Other Central Flyway states will operate under the "season-within-a-season" structure for canvasbacks and pintails, two species of concern to managers.

The service regulations committee approved the hunter's choice duck bag limit as an experimental season.Texas and the four other states where it will be used this year are committed to keeping it in place for at least three hunting seasons.

Waterfowl managers will judge the impact of the hunter's choice through harvest surveys and hunter attitude surveys, Schmidt and Morrison said.

Protecting scaup

During the service regulations committee meeting this past Wednesday, federal waterfowl managers recommended cutting the daily bag limit on scaup from the current two-bird maximum (imposed just a couple of seasons ago) to one scaup per day. Scaup populations have been declining for more than a decade and spring breeding populations have hit record lows for two consecutive years.

Scientists continue puzzling over the decline of scaups.

"We've put a lot of effort into trying to get at the causes of the decline," Schmidt said. "It could have something to do with habitat changes in breeding areas — changes due to global warming. It could have something to do with changes in their prey base; there's a whole host of potential causes." But hunting's not one of those causes. This year's scaup breeding population is about 3.2 million birds, and annual harvest has been around 300,000. For perspective, the gadwall breeding population is about 2.8 million, with an annual hunter harvest of 1.3 million.

"Harvest (of scaup) is not significant enough to cause the decline," Schmidt said. The regulations committee opted to maintain the two-scaup daily bag limit. But federal and state waterfowl managers at the meetings agreed that serious work has to be focused on scaup issues from nesting grounds, along migration corridors and on wintering areas. Mottled ducks, endemic only to the Gulf Coast and an important bird to Texas waterfowlers on coastal marsh and prairies, also are a species of concern, Schmidt said. Mottled duck populations have declined over the past couple of decades. But just how much remains a question. Steep declines have been documented in some parts of its range. Research in other areas indicate mottled duck numbers stable or slightly declining. Waterfowl managers are working to develop a long-term, range-wide research effort to gather population data — breeding populations, nest success and recruitment, harvest, etc.— on the birds.

Click here to read full press release............



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Hunting Fishing & Outdoor News Journal©

| HOME | CONTACT US | DEER HUNTING LEASES | WILD HOG HUNTS | GUIDED HUNTS | MEXICO BASS FISHING | DOGS FOR SALE
| CONTACT US | DUCK HUNTING LEASES | GOOSE HUNTS | GUIDED HUNTS | HUNTING GEAR | OUTDOOR NEWS