2017 Season Limits

Discussion in 'The Duck Hunters Forum' started by Bwana1, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. Steel3's

    Steel3's Elite Refuge Member

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    Because duck populations don't fluctuate all that much from year to year ..... they tend to "trend" in a direction over a number of years. Pintail populations have been declining for the last 3 years; they just now reached the level of not supporting the 2 bird bag. More important, our harvest regulations don't seem to affect that trend; when we restrict, the population does not rebound and when we liberalize, the population continues to increase. Lastly, we've been setting goose regulations on prior year data for years, and the Canadians have been setting their seasons in October of the year before. Consequently, there seems to be little risk in a 1-year lag time between the population data being collected and the seasons being set. In exchange, we set the seasons earlier and the USFWS has time to go through all the legal processes required for the setting of federal law, which have been shorted for all these years, and the process made even worse by extended frameworks. This change was a legal/administrative change forced upon us by the bounds of legal law-setting that could only be overcome by convincing biological issues. For ducks, that doesn't seem to be all that big a deal. Time will tell.

    No. But under the habitat conditions and population sizes of the past 20+ years, as well as the small impact that hunting mortality seems to have on population trends, it just hasn't been the most optimal strategy to have anything but liberal. We do have an issue of 60/6 and 45/6 (liberal and moderate) not being different enough for there to be a predictable difference in harvest rate, so the moderate has almost disappeared from our matrix.

    We can't rule out that maybe we just don't understand all the factors that drive overall duck population dynamics through survival and reproduction, but that's why we fly the survey every year rather than use models based on what we think we know. You actually see the ducks, whether you think there should be more or fewer. We have seen high, consistent water availability on the prairie breeding grounds at the same time that the CRP and grassland reductions have occurred. In Canada, I have seen for myself the effect of that on cultivated habitat where ducks successfully nest there in big numbers when there is lots of water. Ducks are resilient, especially mallards on which our harvest regulations are based, and the relationship between grassland cover may be different with lots of water on the landscape.

    What I do know is that when water (pond) numbers decline over broad areas of the breeding grounds, and they have to some time, we are set for the biggest drop in duck populations on record ....... unless we really don't know what's going on.
     
  2. Steel3's

    Steel3's Elite Refuge Member

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    That is a good point, and the statement, "hunting has no meaningful effect on duck populations" should always include the caveat, "within the bounds of historical harvest regulations". We have no experience with totally closed seasons and we have no experience with truly "unlimited" seasons. Those may indeed have an effect.
     
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  3. okie drake

    okie drake Elite Refuge Member

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    Just want to thank Steel3's for the input here.
    Good stuff.:tu
     
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  4. bill cooksey

    bill cooksey Elite Refuge Member

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    We're certainly in agreement on the first. On the second, I assume we share the concern that a closed season would eventually prove detrimental due to decreased revenue to prop up habitat. Unlimited seasons certainly existed, and it appears through historical accounts they indeed had an impact in areas with enough humans taking advantage of the situation. Basically, unlimited hunting built a coffin and drought just about nailed it shut. Obviously that somewhat anecdotal.
     
  5. greenheadIL

    greenheadIL Elite Refuge Member

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    I want to 2nd that. The kind of information you provide would be very difficult if not impossible to find if not for your post.
     
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  6. Steel3's

    Steel3's Elite Refuge Member

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    You're welcome. I often benefit from the personal experience/expertise posted here on other topics; this was a timely opportunity to share some of mine in the hunting regulation-setting arena.
     
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  7. buck_master_2001

    buck_master_2001 Elite Refuge Member

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    I was simply sharing what was told to us during our last meeting with the feds. Whether it was this year or comingnin then near future I am not sure. Just that they will known more this April/May.
     
  8. buck_master_2001

    buck_master_2001 Elite Refuge Member

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    Perhaps for the same reason we have to pay the price for having Arkie and LA in the same flyway?
     
  9. Steel3's

    Steel3's Elite Refuge Member

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    That is a USFWS decision, and besides convenience, I think it's based on the overlap of at least the 3 western Flyways in pintail breeding ground affiliation. Like for scaup, a portion of the pintails breeding in Alaska and the northern prairies go to wintering areas in the other Flyways, and I'm not sure there is clear enough separation to develop say as Western Pintail AHM, Mid-continent Pintail AHM, and Eastern Pintail AHM the way we have done with mallards. In fact, there are still issues with the Western Mallard AHM's allocation of breeding mallards from Alberta, which are shared with the other Flyways. So what we have for scaup and pintails are a nationwide AHM like we started with for mallards in 1995.

    I was born and raised in Sacramento, learned to hunt waterfowl in the Central Valley, got my BS from U.C. Davis, and my first waterfowl job in California. I know what you are talking about. I know the Pacific Flyway is working on a separate regulatory framework for pintails, this is a big issue for them at every Harvest Management Working Group meeting, but I don't know how it's going.
     
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  10. WidgeonmanGH

    WidgeonmanGH Elite Refuge Member

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    They need to band more Pintails so we can have at least a ratio of how many are truly overlapping (with the added benefit of more banded pintails.:)

    I hope they figure it out.
     

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