Waterfowl framework ready to go
Waterfowl hunters will enjoy a 107-day season this fall after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed liberal hunting season lengths and bag limits for the upcoming 2014-15 late waterfowl seasons.
The various 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 Fish & Wildlife Service’s 2014 Waterfowl Population Status Report, population estimates for most species of ducks remained strong for this breeding season.
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 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 Fish and Wildlife’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 percent higher than the long-term average (1955 to 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.
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.