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Comment Sought on Proposed Waterfowl Seasons
AUSTIN, Texas —Duck hunters are bracing for what could be one of the best waterfowl hunting seasons in many years, with near record duck populations building to the north and ideal habitat conditions awaiting them in Texas. State waterfowl biologists announced proposed hunting regulations for the upcoming season and are currently seeking public comment.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, along with four other states in the Central Flyway, will be in the second year of an experimental Hunter’s Choice bag limit during the 2007-08 seasons.
The Hunter’s Choice allows hunters to shoot five ducks daily, but only one in the aggregate of certain species. In the aggregate category of less abundant ducks, that one bird could be either a pintail, or a canvasback, or a “dusky duck” (mottled, black duck or Mexican-like duck) or a hen mallard.
The general duck season length will be the same as last year in the North and South Zones at 74 days and up seven days in the High Plains Mallard Management Unit to 96 days. “This year because of habitat conditions and duck population estimates we felt we’d be in the liberal framework, so we made the decision to several days off the early teal season and add them into the big duck season,” said Dave Morrison, TPWD waterfowl program leader.
This year’s North American waterfowl spring breeding population survey showed populations of the 10 most popular duck species was up 14 percent over last year with an estimated 41.2 million birds. The counts are the highest since 2000 and just below the all-time record of 43.8 million ducks recorded in 1999.
How the final season structure will unfold is still being discussed, but TPWD has developed a proposal and is seeking public comments prior to presenting recommendations to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission for final approval on Aug. 23.
According to federal guidelines, the general duck hunting seasons in Texas can only occur between Sept. 24 and Jan. 27. In making its recommendations, TPWD takes into consideration calendar shifts to maximize weekend and holiday hunting opportunity, and factors in years of survey data on bird migration and hunter harvest. Following is a rundown of the TPWD recommendations being considered:
North and South Zones — TPWD proposes the following dates: youth-only season Oct. 27–28, regular season Nov. 3–25 and Dec. 8–Jan. 27. This season format will provide a two-week split giving hunters and ducks a rest, while maximizing opportunity during peak historic migrations. It will also provide hunting opportunities until the end of the framework, something many hunters have requested.
High Plains Mallard Management Unit — The HPMMU offers one of the longest duck hunting seasons in the nation. To provide a season that takes advantage of this lengthy opportunity, TPWD is recommending season dates of Oct. 13–14 for the youth-only season and Oct. 20–21 and Oct. 26–Jan. 27 for the regular season.
The proposed daily bag limit for all ducks is five and may include no more than two redheads, two scaup, two wood ducks, and one aggregate duck.
As for geese, TPWD is proposing a season similar to last year, except for an increase in the Canada goose bag limit for the Western Goose Zone.
Eastern Goose Zone — White-fronted geese: Nov. 3–Jan. 13; Canada and light geese: Nov. 3–Jan. 27.The daily bag limit is three Canada, two white-fronted and 20 light geese.
Western Goose Zone — Nov. 3–Feb. 5 with a daily bag limit of five dark geese, of which four may be Canada geese and one white-fronted. The bag limit on light geese is 20 per day.
The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit for Canada and white-fronted geese and no possession limit for “light geese.”
The Light Goose Conservation Order would start at the close of the regular goose seasons and run through March 30 in both zones. This allows relaxed regulations to hunt through various atypical means in order to control light goose overpopulation that has caused damage to Canadian habitat.
Public comment about the waterfowl proposals will be accepted through Aug. 21. Comments should be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to Dave Morrison, TPWD Waterfowl Program Leader, 4200 Smith School Rd., Austin, TX 78744. Input may also be made online via the Public Comment link on the TPWD Web site home page.
On the Net:
- Online public comment: http://tpwd.texas.gov/business/feedback/public_comment/
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