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September Teal Season for Atlantic Flyway States
Experimental Teal Hunt Now Granted Operational Status


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 5, 2003

Contact:
Tom MacKenzie, 404-679-7291

Six states in the Atlantic Flyway -- a geographical migration pathway of 17 states -- will be provided an opportunity to hunt teal during an early September "teal only" season. These 9- day teal seasons in September are available only in states where teal are primarily migrants (not nesters).

A September teal season is offered in six States (Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina) that they as a group have met the threshold criteria during a 3-year evaluation to avoid shooting at non-target waterfowl (species other than teal) and now qualify for operational status.

"We thought it important to use the same hunter-activity criteria across the board for all the flyways," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who is also member on the Service Regulation Committee that overseas waterfowl hunting regulations. "This will allow sportsmen and women in the six states to continue a tradition of waterfowl hunting along the Atlantic Flyway."

Blue-winged and green-winged teal (waterfowl) populations are expected to exceed last year's migration numbers during the fall migration. The individual States will determine the actual days hunters will be allowed to bag teal.

Hunters should utilize special caution to bag only teal during the September seasons. Numerous waterfowl identification guides and publications are available to help recognize waterfowl species, and such aids should be studied to reduce non-target waterfowl incidences. "We thought it important to use the same criteria across the board for all the flyways," said Sam D. Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who is also member on the Service Regulation Committee that overseas waterfowl hunting regulations. "This will allow sportsmen and women in the six states to continue a tradition of waterfowl hunting along the Atlantic Flyway." Hamilton backed the Atlantic Flyways pooled data to authorize the teal hunt in an operational status. The September teal hunting States (Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina) have demonstrated that they, as a group, meet the criteria to avoid shooting at non-target waterfowl (species other than teal) and now qualify for the seasons. Some earlier non- target criteria would have required each state to show that hunters did not exceed a 25% harvest attempt level for non-target waterfowl Hunters should utilize special caution to bag only teal during the September seasons. Numerous waterfowl identification guides and publications are available to help recognize waterfowl species, and such aids should be studied to reduce non-target waterfowl incidences.


BACKGROUND:
In 2001, the Atlantic Flyway Council requested operational status for a special teal season in the four States (Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, and Virginia) that fully met the established criteria. During the ensuing comment period, North Carolina and South Carolina submitted written requests that the Service reconsider its proposed decision to discontinue their September season based upon data-analysis inconsistencies and requested further analysis. The Service decided to continue the 9-day special season experimentally in all six States until a final report was submitted. The seasons were continued again on the same basis in 2002.

In March 2003, the Atlantic Flyway Council submitted its final report and asked the Service to approve operational seasons for all six States in the experiment. Based on the criteria that were established and agreed to by the individual participating States and the Service, in the July 17 Federal Register we proposed operational September teal seasons in Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, and Georgia. The Service had proposed to discontinue seasons in North Carolina and South Carolina based on those two states not fully meeting all criteria in the signed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), mainly that state specific hunter non-target attempt rates be less than 25 percent over the 3-year experimental period.

After considering additional information related to hunter performance and the availability of non-target species in North Carolina and South Carolina submitted by those States during the comment period, and further reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding, the Service believes it is appropriate to apply the hunter-performance criteria to the Flyway level. In view of the additional information submitted by the States, and applications of these data at the Flyway level, the Service is granting operational status to these season.



Questions and Answers:

Why a September hunt?

Teal are very early migrants.hat when most ducks are coming through. By October, most blue-wing teal will have already passed through the Atlantic Flyway States en route to their southern wintering areas, whereas and ssome green-wing teal may hang around longer and winter in the Flyway.

When are the exact days of hunting?

The individual States now will select need to make the actual hunt days decisions. The Service recommends general guidelines that are further refined by the States.

How many teal are there?

Blue- winged teal numbers in the surveyed areas were 5.5 million (+-0.3 million), 31% above last year=s estimate of 4.2 million (+-0.2 million) and are 23% above the long-term (1955-2002) average.

Green-winged teal numbers were 2.7 million (+- 0.2 million) - 46% above their long-term average.

Where can I find out how to better identify ducks?

Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Identification site with photos and descriptions: http://www.ducks.org/waterfowling/gallery/index.asp

Copy of Ducks at a Distance: A Waterfowl Identification Guide by Bob Hines, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/tools/duckdist/duckdist.htm

Greenwing Waterfowl ID Guide: http://www.greenwing.org/greenwings/duckstuff/duckstufframe1.html
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service migratory bird hunting regulations: http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/

Where does one hunt teal?

In open &and shallow water areas, mostly along coastal areas. Many state and federal lands are available for hunting as well as private hunting leases.


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 resource 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 that 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/.



NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.

Atlanta, GA 30345
Phone: 404/679-7289 Fax: 404/679-7286

   
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