Draft Impact Statement Issued on Waterfowl Regulations

image of hunting at sunset. Credit: Dave Menke/USFWS

The U.S Fish and Wildlife Service has released a draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS), on the setting of annual regulations permitting the hunting of migratory birds. Published in the Federal Register on July 9, 2010, the draft SEIS proposes adjusting the process for authorizing migratory bird hunting in accordance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.

First Day of Duck Stamp Sales

image of 2010-2011 duck stamp

The First Day of Sale event for the 2010-2011 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp is June 25, 2010. Since 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp ("Duck Stamp") has provided nearly 700 million dollars for habitat conservation.

Late Season Migratory Bird Hunting Frameworks News Conference

image of a hunter in duck blind

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed continuation of liberal hunting regulations for the upcoming 2009-2010 late waterfowl seasons.

A full season on pintails would be offered with a one bird daily bag limit in the Atlantic, Mississippi and Central Flyways, and a two bird daily bag limit in the Pacific Flyway and a full season on canvasbacks with a one bird daily bag limit offered nation-wide.

Listen to News Conference

Introduction and Process


Habitat


Atlantic Flyway


Mississippi Flyway


Central Flyway


Pacific Flyway


Q and A


Close

Read News Release

Preliminary Harvest Estimates Available

image of Snow Geese from USFWS

Over 13.7 million ducks were harvested in the United States during the 2008-2009 waterfowl hunting season, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Hunting Activity and Harvest report. Duck harvest was down from 14.6 million harvest numbers from the previous season. More than 3.8 million geese were harvested, an increase of 120,000 from the 2007-2008 season. Canada Geese were the most prevalent goose harvested with more than 2.8 million birds taken. Snow Geese were the second most popular goose species harvested, with nearly 560,000 taken nationally.

The Service compiles the harvest report each year to publish estimates of waterfowl hunting activity and harvest for all migratory game bird species in each state, flyway, and the entire United States. The crucial information that hunters provide each year helps to ensure that our migratory bird resources--and hunting tradition--will be around for future generations to enjoy.

Download the 2008-2009 Harvest Report

First Day of Duck Stamp Sales

image of a duck stamp

The First Day of Sale event for the 2009-2010 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp is June 26, 2009. Since 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp ("Duck Stamp") has provided nearly 700 million dollars for habitat conservation.

FWS Announces Liberal Waterfowl Season

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces a liberal waterfowl season for 2008. In three flyways, the Service Regulations Committee recommends closing the canvasback season due to low populations and restricting scaup harvest due to long-term population declines. Given increasing wood duck populations, the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways would get an extra wood duck in the daily bag limit.

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Liberal Season on Tap for Upcoming Late Waterfowl Season

At right: Audio clip of the news conference held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, on August 1, 2008, regarding the 2008-09 waterfowl hunting regulations.

Liberal waterfowl hunting season continues for 2008-2009

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed continuation of liberal hunting season lengths for the upcoming 2008-2009 late waterfowl seasons. Duck hunting season lengths would be 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, 74 days in the Central Flyway, and 107 days in the Pacific Flyway. However, in three flyways, the Service Regulations Committee recommends closing the canvasback season due to low populations and restricting scaup harvest due to long-term population declines.Given increasing wood duck populations, the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways would get an extra wood duck in the daily bag limit.

"All the information on the status of waterfowl populations and habitat conditions is now in and has been carefully analyzed by our biologists," said Service Director H. Dale Hall. "Though pond and duck numbers are down from the last few years on the breeding grounds, they remain above the thresholds necessary for a liberal season, and that is what we are proposing this year."

“We have taken steps to conserve scaup and canvasback populations," continued Hall. "Following our recently adopted scaup harvest strategy, the Service is reducing hunting pressure on scaup to ensure a harvest we believe the population can support. Unfortunately, canvasback numbers were below the level that would permit a nationwide harvest.”

States select their season from within the frameworks which establish the outer limits of season length, bag limits and season beginning and ending date.

Brief highlights of the proposed nationwide frameworks are below:

  • Due to the ongoing "Hunters' Choice" experiment in the Central Flyway, that flyway would continue with regulations similar to last year. Canvasback and scaup seasons would be unchanged. The Hunter's Choice bag limit is an aggregate bag intended to reduce the harvest of species with lower abundance. For example, hunters are allowed only one pintail, canvasback or mottled duck in the bag while maintaining full hunting opportunity on abundant species such as drake mallards.
  • The Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways would be allowed an increase from two to three wood ducks in the bag limit.
  • A full season on pintails with a one bird daily bag limit would be offered nation-wide, similar to last year.
  • After a record canvasback population estimate last year, followed by this year’s low estimate, Service staff reviewed survey methods, data and analytical procedures and found nothing unusual. Declines in canvasbacks counted were widespread, occurring in the same areas that experienced increases last year. Based on the harvest estimate from last year’s seasons, it is clear that harvest alone is not responsible for the drop. Canvasback estimates typically have higher variation than for many other species. Although it is possible that the large change in the population estimate is simply the result of normal sampling variation, the Service has no data to suggest this year's population estimate is not accurate. Using this estimate and the approved Canvasback Harvest Strategy, the allowable harvest this year did not permit a nationwide canvasback season. There was sufficient allowable harvest to permit the Central Flyway to continue their Hunter's Choice experiment, and all Flyways recommended they be allowed to do so.

The proposed late season waterfowl frameworks will appear in a mid-August edition of the Federal Register for public comment. You can see the “Status of Waterfowl” report and video as well as last year’s harvest figures on this website.

Flyway specific highlights of the proposed late-season frameworks are below:

Atlantic Flyway (Connecticut,Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina,Vermont, Virginia and West Virginia):

Ducks: A hunting season is proposed of not more than 60 days between September 27, 2008, and January 25, 2009. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, two redheads, two hooded mergansers, one black duck, one pintail, one mottled duck, one fulvous whistling duck, and four scoters. The season on harlequin ducks and canvasbacks is closed. A hybrid regulation for scaup would be allowed, consisting of a two-bird bag limit for any 20 consecutive hunting days and one scaup per day for the remainder of the season.

Geese: For light geese, states would be able to select a 107-day season between October 1, 2008, and March 10, 2009, with a daily bag limit of 15 birds and no possession limit. Seasons for Canada geese would vary in length among states and areas depending on the populations of birds that occur in those areas. The daily bag limit would be five birds in hunt zones established for resident populations of Canada geese. In hunt zones established for migratory populations, bag limits would be three or fewer and would vary among states and areas. For Atlantic brant, the season length may be 60 days with a daily bag limit of three.

MississippiFlyway (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 September 27, 2008, and January 25, 2009. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four mallards (two hens), three mottled ducks, three wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck and one pintail. There is no open season for canvasbacks. A hybrid season would be allowed for scaup during which the daily bag limit would be two for no more than 20 consecutive days and one bird for the remaining 40 days. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is five, only two of which may be hooded mergansers.

Geese: Generally, seasons for Canada geese would be held between September 27, 2008, and January 31, 2009, and vary in length among States and areas, with daily bag limits varying from one to three. States would be able to select seasons for light geese not to exceed 107 days with 20 geese daily between September 27, 2008, and March 10, 2009; for white-fronted geese this proposed season would not exceed 72 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 86 days with a one-bird daily bag limit between September 27, 2008, and February 15, 2009; and for brant it would not exceed 70 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a one-bird daily bag limit between September 27, 2008, and January 31, 2009. There would be no possession limit for light geese.

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

Ducks: Duck seasons are proposed to be held between September 27, 2008, and January 25, 2009. In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit (roughly west of the 100th Meridian), a 97-day season is proposed. The last 23 days would be able to start no earlier than December 13, 2008. A 74-day season is proposed for the remainder of the Central Flyway. This is the third and final year of the 3-year evaluation of the Hunter's Choice duck bag limit in the Central Flyway.

The Hunter's Choice bag limit is an aggregate bag, of which only one duck from the following may be taken: hen mallard, canvasback, pintail, or mottled duck. Five States (North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, and Texas) have been randomly assigned to have Hunter's Choice regulations and the remaining five States (Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico) will serve as controls (season within a season regulations for canvasbacks and pintails) as the evaluation proceeds.

In Montana, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, the daily bag limit would be 6 ducks, with species and sex restrictions as follows: mallard — five, no more than two of which may be females; redhead, scaup, wood duck — two; pintail, mottled duck, canvasback — one. For pintails and canvasbacks, the season length would be 39 days, which may be split according to applicable zones/split duck hunting configurations approved for each state. The possession limit would be twice the daily bag limit. In North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Kansas, and Texas, the daily bag limit would be five ducks, with species and sex restrictions as follows: scaup, redhead and wood duck — two; only one duck from the following group — hen mallard, mottled duck, pintail, canvasback. The possession limit would be twice the daily bag.

Geese: Under the proposal, States may select seasons between September 27, 2008 and February 15, 2009 for dark geese and between September 27, 2008 and March 10, 2009 for light geese. East tier states would be able to select a 107-day season for Canada geese season with a daily bag limit of three. For white-fronted geese, states would be able to select either a 72-day season with a daily bag limit of two birds or an 86-day season with a daily bag limit of one bird. In the West Tier, states may select a 107-day dark-goose season with a daily bag limit of five birds. In the Western Goose Zone of Texas, the State would be able to select a 95-day season with a daily bag limit of four dark geese (including no more than one white-fronted goose). Colorado would be able to select a 107-day season with an aggregate bag limit of four. For light geese, all states would be able to select a 107-day season with a daily bag limit of 20 and no possession limit.

Pacific Flyway (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming):

Ducks: Under the proposal, states are allowed a 107-day general duck season between September 27, 2008, and January 25, 2009. The proposed daily bag limit is seven ducks,including no more than two mallard hens, two redheads and one pintail. In addition, an 86 day season for scaup can be chosen with a daily bag limit of two. The canvasback season is closed.

Geese: 107-day seasons are proposed for the Pacific Flyway with outside dates between September 27,2008, and March 10, 2009. Proposed basic daily bag limits are up to 10 light geese and four dark geese. There are exceptions to the basic bag limits and season structures for geese in many states, so consult State regulations for specific details. In California, Washington and Oregon, the dark goose limit does not include brant. For brant, the proposed season lengths are 16 days in Oregon and Washington and 30 days in California, with a two-bird daily limit. Washington and California would be able to choose seasons in each of the two zones.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. Visit our website for more information on our work and the people who make it happen.

Preliminary Harvest Estimates

More than 14.5 million ducks were harvested in the United States during the 2007-2008 waterfowl hunting season, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is up from 13.8 million ducks harvested the previous season. Hunters harvested almost 3.7 million geese, similar to the 2006-7 estimate. These figures come from a report called Migratory bird hunting activity and harvest during the 2007 and 2008 hunting seasons. The Service generates the estimates contained in this report based on surveys of selected waterfowl hunters through the cooperative State-Federal Harvest Information Program.

Almost one million duck hunters spent nearly seven million days in the field, up slightly from the previous season's nearly 6.8 million days. More than 700,000 hunters spent approximately four million days hunting geese, which is similar to the 2006-2007 season.

In the Atlantic Flyway, approximately 1.7 million ducks were harvested during the 2007-2008 season, similar to the prior season. The 936,000 geese harvested in 2007 represent an increase from the 714,000 harvested the previous season.

In the Mississippi Flyway, approximately 6.7 million ducks were harvested, almost a half million more than the previous season. An estimated 1.3 million geese were harvested, similar to the previous season.

In the Central Flyway, hunters bagged nearly 2.7 million ducks last season, an increase of 200,000 birds. The harvest of more than 900,000 geese was similar to the previous season.

In the Pacific Flyway, hunters harvested more than 3.4 million ducks and almost 500,000 geese - both estimates similar to the 2006-2007 season's harvest.

In Alaska, nearly 68,000 ducks were harvested, similar to the previous season. The goose harvest, at 6,800 birds, was slightly down from 7,500 birds in the previous season.

As has been in the past, mallards were the most prevalent duck bagged by hunters in the United States, with approximately 4.9 million birds harvested. Other dominant species this year were green-winged teal, with almost two million birds harvested, and gadwall, with nearly 1.5 million harvested. Wood ducks and blue-wing/cinnamon teal rounded out the top five hunted waterfowl with more than one million of each species harvested during the 2007-8 season.

Canada geese were the most prevalent geese harvested with almost 2.7 million birds taken. Snow geese were the second most popular goose species harvested, with an estimated 560,000 taken nationally.

The Service compiles this report each year to estimate waterfowl hunting activity, success and harvest by species. These surveys are used by the Service and State wildlife agencies, in part, to develop estimates of the number of all migratory birds harvested throughout the country, as well as to establish season lengths and bag limits designed to maintain healthy sustainable waterfowl populations.

Download Preliminary Harvest Results Report for:

2006-2007
2007-2008

Adaptive Harvest Management 2008 Report Released

This report provides waterfowl managers and the public with information about the use of Adaptive Harvest Management for setting waterfowl regulations in the United States.

Download the 2008 AHM Final Report

Preliminary Harvest Estimates Available

More than 14.5 million ducks were harvested in the United States during the 2007-2008 waterfowl hunting season, according to preliminary estimates by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This is up from 13.8 million ducks harvested the previous season. Hunters harvested almost 3.7 million geese, similar to the 2006-2007 estimate. These figures come from a report called Migratory bird hunting activity and harvest during the 2007 and 2008 hunting seasons. The Service generates the estimates contained in this report based on surveys of selected waterfowl hunters through the cooperative State-Federal Harvest Information Program.

Download the 2006-2007 Harvest Report

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