2011-2012 Md. Late Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Proposed

ANNAPOLIS (August 2, 2011) — The proposed 2011-2012 late waterfowl hunting seasons and bag limits are now available from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Wildlife & Heritage Service. DNR will accept public comment on the proposed regulations through August 17 and will announce the finalized seasons and bag limits in early September.

“We are pleased to offer a variety of opportunities for hunters to continue the great tradition of waterfowl hunting in Maryland,” said Paul A. Peditto, director of DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service. “As always, we are looking forward to an active public participation process as we move forward toward finalizing these proposals.”

Good breeding habitat conditions in eastern Canada and the prairie region of North America should result in a large fall flight of ducks this year. This year’s eastern mallard population (746,000) is sufficiently large to prescribe a liberal duck hunting package for Atlantic flyway states. As a result, DNR is proposing a 60-day duck season with a six-bird bag limit for 2011-2012.

“This is particularly good news for duck hunters this year” said DNR’s Waterfowl Project Leader Larry Hindman. “The total number of breeding ducks in the survey areas across North America increased to 45.6 million this year, 11 percent above last year’s estimate and 35 percent above the long-term (1955-2010) average. Diving duck hunters will be pleased that the bag limits for scaup and canvasback remain unchanged from last year and will be two scaup and one canvasback per day during the full 60-day regular duck season.”

The 2011 spring breeding pair survey of Atlantic Population (AP) or migrant Canada geese totaled 194,900 pairs compared to 154,000 in 2010. The spring thaw occurred slowly and habitat conditions appeared average or slightly below average at the time of the survey. Ground nest surveys along Ungava Bay show that overall gosling production is expected to be average to slightly below average. As a result, the 2011 Canada goose AP season proposal remains unchanged from last year at 45 days with a daily bag limit of two geese.

Although information on the spring population size of the greater snow goose is not yet available from the Canadian Wildlife Service, the population continues to exceed the desired goal of 500,000 -750,000 birds. Nesting conditions for greater snow geese on Bylot Island, the principle breeding colony for this species, were favorable.

“We expect good gosling production and a large fall flight of greater snow geese on the Delmarva Peninsula,” said Hindman.

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 hunting season this year. Hunters participating in the conservation order season may use unplugged shotguns, electronic call and are permitted to hunt from one half-hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset with no daily bag or possession limits.

“The intent of the conservation order season and liberalized hunting methods is to significantly reduce the light goose population,” said Hindman. “The greater snow goose population is well above the desired objective of 500-750 thousand birds. A smaller population will help minimize the ecological and agricultural damage caused by the current over-abundance of light geese.”

DNR will hold a public meeting to collect comments on the proposed regulations at 7 p.m. on Monday, August 15 at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills. Public comments may also be submitted online at dnr.maryland.gov/wildlife/Hunt_Trap/waterfowl/lwfforum.asp, via fax (410-260-8596), by phone (410-260-8540) or by writing to: Wildlife and Heritage Service, Attn: Director, 580 Taylor Avenue, Annapolis, Maryland 21401. The comment period ends at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17.

To view the proposed Maryland 2011-2012 late waterfowl hunting season dates and bag limits please visit dnr.maryland.gov/huntersguide/lwfchart.asp.

Source: Maryland Department of Natural Resources

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