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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes liberal hunting season lengths and bag limits for the upcoming 2014-15 late waterfowl seasons. States will select their individual seasons from within the federal frameworks that establish the earliest beginning and latest ending dates and the maximum season length and bag limits. According to the Service’s 2014 Waterfowl Population Status Report, population estimates for most species of ducks remained strong for this breeding season.
The waterfowl hunting frameworks are set using annual results of cooperative population surveys, banding programs and harvest surveys that produce the largest data set on any wildlife species group in the world. They guide the Service’s waterfowl conservation programs and provide hunting opportunities while ensuring the long-term health of waterfowl populations.
In the traditional survey area, which includes Alaska, the north-central United States, and south-central and northern Canada, the 2014 total duck population estimate was 49.2 million birds, an 8 percent increase from last year’s estimate of 45.6 million and is 43% higher than the long-term average (1955-2013). Although most duck populations remain strong, where and when waterfowl will be encountered this year depends on many factors. Weather, food availability and water conditions influence local duck abundance, distribution, behavior and, ultimately, hunter success.
Overall, habitat conditions in the survey area were similar to or slightly improved from last year. The 2014 pond estimate for the north-central United States was 2.6 million. Pond numbers in the United States were similar to 2013 and 53 percent above the long-term average (1974-2013).
The proposed federal frameworks include duck hunting season lengths of 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, 74 days in the Central Flyway (with an additional 23 days in the High Plains areas), and 107 days in the Pacific Flyway. The proposed late season waterfowl frameworks will appear in the Federal Register for public inspection and comment in mid-August.
Each year, the Service works in partnership with states from the four flyways to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates and bag limits. Flyway-specific highlights of the proposed late-season frameworks are as follows:
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):
Mississippi Flyway (Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee and Wisconsin):
Central Flyway (Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming):
Pacific Flyway (Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico and Wyoming):
The Status of Waterfowl report can be found at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/. To view a video of the Status of Waterfowl video visit: http://flyways.us/status-of-waterfowl/video-report/.
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. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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