U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE
134 UNION BOULEVARD
LAKEWOOD, COLORADO 80228
May 28, 1996
Hugh Vickery 202-208-5634
Michael Smith 303-236-7905
SERVICE SEEKS PUBLIC COMMENT ON
AMENDING WATERFOWL BAITING REGULATIONS
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on
regulations that prohibit hunting over natural vegetation that has been
mowed or otherwise artificially manipulated to attract waterfowl.
The regulations, addressing illegal baiting of ducks and geese for
hunting in moist-soil areas, have been in effect since the 1920s. Critics
of the regulations contend they are outdated, overly intrusive, and do not
help conserve waterfowl.
"Many believe these regulations are clearly defined and necessary to
maintain healthy waterfowl populations, while others believe they are
vague, do little for the waterfowl resource, and are inconsistently
enforced," said Ken Williams, executive director of the Service's North
American Waterfowl and Wetlands Office.
"By publishing this notice, we are inviting hunters, wildlife biologists,
state wildlife managers, and others with interest or expertise to advise the
Service of their views on the need to reform waterfowl baiting
regulations," Williams said.
Comments must be received by June 20, 1996. The Service will review
the comments and recommendations before proposing any changes in the
The Service has identified four key issues:
What are the potential impacts on available habitat of
changing the regulations? Some critics contend the current
regulations place unnecessary economic burdens on
landowners and provide little incentive to retain waterfowl
habitat. It has been alleged that these regulations may
discourage landowners from conserving waterfowl habitat but
at present, there is no direct evidence that this is occurring
nor any way to determine the magnitude or impact of such
What are the potential impacts to waterfowl populations of
changing the regulations? The Service believes waterfowl
harvest is likely to increase; however, the magnitude and
resulting impact on populations is uncertain since little
information exists about potential impacts.
What is the effect of changing the regulations on law
enforcement efforts? Any change in regulations must be
enforceable. The regulations must clearly identify what
constitutes natural vegetation and hunters must be able to
easily distinguish between lawful and unlawful practices.
What is the effect of changing the regulations on existing
case law? Any regulatory change would make moot some
existing case law. This would have an unknown effect on
future court judgments, perhaps resulting in a temporary
increase in uncertainty regarding the regulations.
The Service has no position at this time on potential changes in the
regulations. If the Service proposes specific changes in the future, the
public will have another opportunity to comment.
The Service is reviewing the migratory bird hunting and permit
regulations and expects to publish proposed changes based on that review
in the future.
However, because of the complex issues involved in waterfowl baiting
regulations, the Service has opted to remove these regulations from the
broader review and address them in a separate rulemaking.
Comments should be sent to: Director (FWS/NAWWO), U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, 110 ARLSQ, 1849 C St., NW., Washington, DC 20240.