Using New Process for Setting Game Bird Hunting Seasons, USFWS Proposes 2016-17 Migratory Bird Frameworks

Image of ducks Credit: katdaned, Flickr

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.

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