Adaptive Harvest Management

Report for 2019 Hunting Season

The Adaptive Harvest Management (AHM) Report for the 2019-2020 hunting season is now available. This annual report is intended to provide waterfowl managers and the public with information about the use of adaptive harvest management for setting waterfowl hunting regulations in the United States. This report provides the most current data, analyses, and decision-making protocols. However, adaptive management is a dynamic process and some information presented in this report will differ from that in previous reports.

The nature of the restrictive, moderate, and liberal alternatives has remained essentially unchanged since 1997, except that extended framework dates have been offered in the moderate and liberal alternatives since 2002. For the 2019 hunting season, the USFWS is considering similar regulatory alternatives as 2018—the optimal choice in all four Flyways is the liberal regulatory alternative.

The AHM protocol is based on the population dynamics and status of western mallard stocks in the Pacific Flyway, mid-continent mallard stocks in the Central and Mississippi Flyways, and a suite of waterfowl stocks in the Atlantic Flyway. In 2018, the Atlantic Flyway and the USFWS adopted a multi-stock AHM protocol that recognizes 4 populations of eastern waterfowl: American green-winged teal, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, and goldeneyes. The regulatory choice for the Atlantic Flyway depends exclusively on the status of these waterfowl populations.

The annual process of setting duck-hunting regulations in the U.S. is based on a system of resource monitoring, data analyses, and rule-making. Each year, monitoring activities such as aerial surveys, preseason banding, and hunter questionnaires provide information on population size, habitat conditions, and harvest levels. Data collected from these monitoring programs are analyzed each year, and proposals for duck-hunting regulations are developed by the Flyway Councils, States, and USFWS.

This approach explicitly recognizes that the consequences of hunting regulations cannot be predicted with certainty and provides a framework for making objective decisions in the face of that uncertainty. Inherent in the adaptive approach is an awareness that management performance can be maximized only if regulatory effects can be predicted reliably. Thus, adaptive management relies on an iterative cycle of monitoring, assessment, and decision-making to clarify the relationships among hunting regulations, harvests, and waterfowl abundance. s a dynamic process and some information presented in this report will differ from that in previous reports. Learn More.

Last Updated: August 20, 2018