ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Sept. 2, 2009) The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has reviewed all public input and finalized the 2009-2010 late waterfowl hunting seasons. As always, public input helped guide our decisions, said Paul Peditto, Director of DNRs Wildlife and Heritage Service. The individuals who took the time to attend our public meeting and provide comments through our online forum should be commended.
Good breeding habitat conditions should result in a large fall flight of ducks this year. The 60-day duck season includes three segments, running from October 17 to October 24, November 14 to November 27, and December 15 to January 30. The daily bag limit will be six ducks per day.
One change this year is an increase in the daily bag limits for certain diving ducks. The breeding population of canvasbacks increased 38 percent to 660,000 birds this year and scaup numbers were above four million for the first time in nearly a decade, said Larry Hindman, DNRs Waterfowl Project Leader. As a result, diving duck hunters may take two scaup and one canvasback per day as part of their six duck limit.
The 2009 spring breeding pair survey of Atlantic Population (migratory) Canada geese was 176,600 compared to 169,700 in 2008. Unfortunately, spring snowmelt was delayed over most of the Atlantic Population (AP) breeding range in northern Quebec resulting in reduced nesting effort and poor gosling production. Thus, the 2009 AP Canada goose season remains unchanged from last year at 45 days with a daily bag limit of two geese. The season will be split into two segments, from November 21 to November 27 and from December 17 to January 30.
The greater snow goose breeding population reached an all time high this spring with 1.4 million birds. Unlike the poor nesting conditions for Canada geese, conditions were favorable for greater snow geese, said Hindman. Thus, the fall flight should be one of the largest ever, approaching 2 million birds.
Greater and lesser snow geese and Ross's geese are collectively referred to as light geese. A Light Goose Conservation Order season will immediately follow the conclusion of the regular light goose hunting season this year. During the Conservation Order season hunters may use unplugged shotguns, electronic calls and hunt from one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset with no daily bag or possession limits.
The intent of the liberal Conservation Order season is to significantly reduce light goose populations, said Hindman. The Atlantic Flyway greater snow goose population is more than twice the desired population size. A reduced population will help minimize the ecological and agricultural damage caused by the current over-abundance of light geese.
Waterfowl hunters participating in the Light Goose Conservation Order season must possess a Snow Goose Conservation Order Hunting Season permit which may be obtained for $5 from any DNR sport license agent, online at http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/, or by phone (1-800-918-2870). Participants must possess a valid Maryland hunting license (or resident Delaware license) and a 2009-2010 Maryland Migratory Game Bird Hunting Stamp.
All migratory game bird hunters, including landowners who are license-exempt, are required to obtain the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp. Hunters must possess the printed receipt showing proof of purchase of the Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp while hunting migratory game birds.
All waterfowl hunters age 16 and over must also purchase the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp) which must be signed and in possession while hunting waterfowl and coots. Hunters may obtain federal duck stamps at U.S. Post Offices, National Wildlife Refuges, certain DNR sport license agents and online at www.duckstamp.com. The Federal stamp is not required for the Light Goose Conservation season.
Non-toxic shot is required for hunting waterfowl and coots. Hunters may not possess or use non-toxic shot shells larger than size No. T or any lead shot shells while waterfowl hunting. Approved types of nontoxic shot and other information on migratory game bird hunting are listed in the 2009-2010 Guide to Hunting and Trapping in Maryland or on DNRs website at http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide/index.asp.
The 2009-2010 late waterfowl season dates and bag limits will be published in the annual migratory game bird season synopsis and distributed to DNR Wildlife and Heritage Service offices and sport license agents in mid-September. For more information about the 2009-2010 Maryland Late Waterfowl Seasons and Bag Limits submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, visit http://www.dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide/lwfchart.asp.
Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR)