Veteran pilot biologist Jim Bredy and his observer Joe Sands enthusiastically launched the 2016 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey on May 3rd, taking to the skies of southern Alberta, Canada. Pilots and ground crews in ten other survey areas across Canada and the northern United States will follow suit in the days ahead, and as always you can get the inside scoop on what they are seeing every day as they post their observations, photos and videos. Jim and Joe report very dry conditions on the first day of the survey, but the weeks ahead will reveal whether that is the norm or simply one in a wide range of conditions throughout the Prairie Potholes region. What they find will play an important role in setting regulations for the fall waterfowl hunting seasons.
A cooperative effort of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and state, provincial, and tribal agencies, this survey currently covers more than 2.1 million square miles of the northern United States and Canada, and includes most of the primary duck nesting areas in North America.
Using New Process for Setting Game Bird Hunting Seasons, USFWS Proposes 2016-17 Migratory Bird Frameworks
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed continued liberal game bird season lengths and bag limits for the 2016-17 hunting seasons, due to steady or improving population numbers. This marks the first implementation of a more streamlined process for setting annual migratory game bird hunting seasons and bag limit, compressing the previous two-cycle regulatory practice into a single, annual process. Biological data from the past year will now be used to set season dates and project harvest limits for each game species. This gives biologists more time to analyze bird survey data and gives the public more time to comment on proposed rules, and also ensures that administrative procedures don't lead to delays in the opening of state hunting seasons.
The 2016-17 federal frameworks propose duck hunting season lengths of 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways and 74 days in the Central Flyway (with an additional 23 days in the High Plains areas), with a daily bag limit of six ducks in each of those flyways. Proposed duck hunting frameworks for the Pacific Flyway would allow a 107-day season and a seven-bird daily bag limit. A 16-day special September teal season with a six-bird daily bag limit is proposed to continue to be offered in certain states in the Atlantic, Mississippi and Central flyways. Proposed regulations for geese also are largely unchanged from 2015-16 seasons and in several cases are very liberal in an attempt to reduce their abundance.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed hunting regulations for the upcoming 2015-2016 late waterfowl seasons. Hunting season lengths of 60 days were proposed for the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, with 74 days for the Central Flyway (with an additional 23 days in the High Plains areas) and 107 days for the Pacific Flyway.
A full season on pintails would be offered nation-wide with a two bird daily bag limit, and a full season on canvasbacks with a two bird daily bag limit offered nation-wide.
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.
The Service is also streamlining the process by which it sets annual migratory game bird hunting seasons and bag limits. Beginning with the 2016-17 hunting seasons, the current two-cycle regulatory practice will be compressed into a single annual process.The new streamlined process to set annual migratory game bird hunting seasons and bag limits will rely on biological data from the past year to set hunting season dates and project appropriate harvest limits for each game species. The change will give biologists more time to analyze bird survey data that inform the Service’s regulatory decisions and will give the public more time to comment on proposed rules. The change will also ensure that administrative procedures do not delay the opening of state hunting seasons.
Final results from the 2015 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. Preliminary reports are confirmed -- a total duck population estimate of 49.5 million birds in the traditional survey area, which is similar to last year's tally and holding steady at 43% above the long term average.
The latest Migratory Bird Hunting Activity and Harvest Report has been released, reporting that over 13.7 million ducks were harvested in the United States in 2013, with a decrease to just less than 13.3 million ducks harvested in 2014. The number of harvested geese was nearly 3.4 million nationally in 2013, decreasing somewhat to just over 3.3 million geese in 2014.
In addition to downloading the full report, you can also generate custom harvest trends reports to quickly and easily view the information that is important to you. With these custom reports, you can view harvest trends for a specific species in a specific state; or you can view results for all ducks or all geese on a national level or within a selected flyway; or you can see the total of all ducks and geese at the national level. Results from these custom reports are presented in line graph format to easily illustrate harvest trends from 1961 through 2013. To view harvest activity reports for previous years, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Management website.