Waterfowl hunting season this fall similar to last year

Waterfowl hunting season this fall similar to last year The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing hunting regulations for the upcoming 2004-2005 waterfowl season similar to those set last year. The proposal again contains restrictions on harvest of northern pintail and canvasbacks because of continuing concerns about population status.

Under the service's late-season frameworks proposal, hunting season lengths will be 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, 74 days in

the Central Flyway, and 107 days in the Pacific Flyway.

"While breeding habitat conditions in some of our survey areas are not as good as we have seen in recent years, overall the habitat and populations

of key waterfowl species are sufficient to justify the hunting opportunity these regulations afford," said Service Director Steve Williams. "All flyway councils joined the service in supporting these regulations."

Estimates of pintail and canvasback numbers were similar to last year and the service will continue last year's restriction. Seasons for pintails and canvasbacks will be 60 days in the Pacific Flyway, 39 days in the Central Flyway, and 30 days in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways.

Breeding populations of scaup remain well below their long-term average, and as a result the service is proposing to maintain restrictions implemented in 1999 that reduced the bag limit from six (seven in the Pacific Flyway) to three (four in the Pacific Flyway) per day. Restrictions on the harvest of black ducks in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways that have been in place for a number of years will continue.

This proposal will appear in the Federal Register for public comment and on http://migratorybirds.fws.gov soon.

Highlights of the proposed late-season framework for the region follow.

Central Flyway: Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming

Ducks: Duck seasons may be held between Sept. 23, 2004, and Jan. 30, 2005. In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit (roughly west of the 100th Meridian), a 97-day season (39 days each for canvasbacks and pintails) is proposed. The last 23 days may start no earlier than Dec. 11. A 74-day season (39 days each for canvasbacks and pintails) is proposed for the remainder of the Central Flyway. The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than five mallards (two hens), two redheads, three scaup, two wood ducks, one mottled duck, one pintail, and

one canvasback.

Geese: States may select seasons between Sept. 23, 2004 and February 13, 2005 for dark geese and between Sept. 23, 2004 and March 10, 2005 for light geese. In the East Tier, states may select a 95-day season for Canada geese, with a daily bag limit of three.

For white-fronted geese, states may select either an 86-day season with a daily bag limit of two birds or a 107-day season with a daily bag limit of one bird.

In the West Tier, states may select a 107-day dark-goose season with a daily bag limit of five birds.

For light geese, all states may select a 107-day season with a daily bag limit of 20 and no possession limit.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas.

It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts.

It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit our home page at http://www.fws.gov.

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