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U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Duck Hunting Regulations, Limited Canvasback Season Re-Opened


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 1, 2003

Contacts:
Nick Throckmorton
, USFWS Public Affairs, 202/208-5636

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing liberal hunting regulations for the upcoming 2003-2004 waterfowl season that are similar to those set last year. The proposal again contains restrictions on harvest of northern pintail due to continuing concerns about population status, while also permitting limited opportunities for canvasbacks this year.

Under the Service's late-season frameworks proposal, hunting season lengths will be 107 days in the Pacific Flyway, 74 days in the Central Flyway, and 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways. However, seasons for pintails and canvasbacks will be 60 days in the Pacific Flyway, 39 days in the Central Flyway, and 30 days in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways.

"Habitat conditions for breeding ducks greatly improved over last year in most of the prairie survey areas and the outlook for production is good," said Service Director Steve Williams. "In particular, portions of southern Alberta and southern Saskatchewan received much-needed precipitation this spring, following a long period of extremely dry conditions. The forecasts for production of geese and swans varied regionally, but generally will be similar to or higher than last year,"

Canvasback status has improved sufficiently to permit a limited season this year, and although pintail numbers also improved, the Service will continue last year's restrictions in an attempt to assist the recovery of this species' from the record low level in 2002. Pintails remain about 40 percent below the long-term average and biologists are hopeful that the return of water to traditional prairie nesting areas this spring has stimulated a strong and successful nesting effort and will contribute to population recovery.

Breeding populations of scaup remain well below their long-term average, and as a result the Service is proposing to maintain restrictions implemented in 1999 that reduced the bag limit from six (seven in the Pacific Flyway) to three (four in the Pacific Flyway) per day. Restrictions on the harvest of black ducks in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways that have been in place for a number of years will continue this year.

For detailed descriptions of the Service's proposals, consult the Federal register at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov or contact the Division of Migratory Bird management at (703) 358-1714.


Highlights of the proposed late-season frameworks follow:

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 of not more than 60 days (30 days each for pintails and canvasbacks) between September 27, 2003, and January 25, 2004. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four mallards (two hens), two wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, one black duck, one pintail, one mottled duck, one fulvous whistling duck, one canvasback, and four scoters. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is five, only one of which may be a hooded merganser. The season on harlequin ducks is closed.

Geese

  • For light geese, states may select a 107-day season between October 1, 2003 and March 10, 2004, with a daily bag limit of 15 geese and no possession limit. For Atlantic Population Canada geese, the season this year will allow portions of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and New York to hold a 45-day season between the October 25, 2003, and January 31, 2004 with a two-bird daily bag limit. Delaware, Maryland and Virginia will be allowed to hold a 45-day season in Atlantic Population areas between November 15, 2003 and January 31, 2004, with a one-bird daily bag limit. In Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long Island, New York, a 45-day season on North Atlantic Population Canada geese is proposed between October 1, 2003 and January 31, 2004, with a two-bird daily bag limit. Special or experimental seasons and regular seasons to harvest resident and other populations of migratory Canada geese are authorized in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. For Atlantic brant, the season length may be 60 days with a daily bag limit of three.


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

Ducks

  • A hunting season of not more than 60 days (30 days each for pintails and canvasbacks) between September 27, 2003, and January 25, 2004. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four mallards (two hens), three mottled ducks, three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads, one black duck, one pintail, and one canvasback. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is five, only one of which may be a hooded merganser.

Geese

  • Seasons for Canada geese may be held between September 27, 2003, and January 31, 2004, and vary in length, among States and areas, with daily bag limits varying from one to three. Generally, states may select seasons for light geese not to exceed 107 days with 20 geese daily between September 27, 2003 and March 10, 2004; for white-fronted geese not to exceed 86 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a one-bird daily bag limit between September 27, 2003, and February 15, 2004; and for brant not to exceed 70 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a one-bird daily bag limit between September 27, 2003, and January 31, 2004. There is 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

  • In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit (roughly west of the 100th Meridian), a 97-day season (39 days each for canvasbacks and pintails) is proposed. The last 23 days may start no earlier than December 8, 2001. A 74-day season (39 days each for canvasbacks and pintails) is proposed for the remainder of the Central Flyway. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than five mallards (two hens), two redheads, three scaup, two wood ducks, one mottled duck, one pintail, and one canvasback.

Geese

  • States may select seasons between September 27, 2003 and February 15, 2003 for dark geese and between September 27, 2003 and March 10, 2004 for light geese. In the East Tier, states may select a 95-day season for Canada geese, with a daily bag limit of three. In the Eastern Goose Zone of Texas, the State may select an alternative 107-day season with a daily bag limit of one. For white-fronted geese, states may select either an 86-day season with a daily bag limit of 2 birds or a 107-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 may select a 95-day season with a daily bag limit of three dark geese (including no more than one white-fronted goose). Colorado, may select a 95-day season with an aggregate bag limit of three. For light geese, all states may 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

  • A 107-day season between September 27, 2003, and January 25, 2004. The proposed daily bag limit is seven ducks, including no more than two mallard hens, two redheads, four scaup, one pintail, and one canvasback. Canvasbacks and pintails will be limited to one bird daily and open for only a 60-day period of the regular duck season.

Geese

  • A 107-day season is proposed in most parts of the Flyway between September 27, 2003, and January 25, 2004. Bag limits generally are three light geese and four dark geese. Other restrictions vary by State and zone. For brant, the season lengths are 16 days in Oregon and Washington and 30 days in California, with a two-bird daily limit. Washington may split its brant season into 2 segments. Some area closures in California and Oregon are maintained for the continued protection of the recently de-listed Aleutian Canada goose.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 


For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://southeast.fws.gov/ or http://www.fws.gov/.



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