Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: 2019-2020 Bag Limit Reduction

  1. #1
    10 Point Mallard870's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Northeastern CT

    2019-2020 Bag Limit Reduction
    I believe we've discussed this on the forums previously but it appears to be confirmed now (per the Ducks Unlimited article) that the USFW has approved regulation to decrease the bag limit of ducks and geese in the Atlantic Flyway for the 2019-2020 season.

    The Mallard bag limit is reduced from 4 to 2, only one of which can be a hen.

    For Canada Geese in the Upper Atlantic Flyway, specifically Connecticut, the bag limit is to be reduced from 3 to 2 birds and a season reduction from 45 to 30 days.

    I don't necessarily disagree with the idea of reducing the Mallard bag limit. A less drastic step would have been reducing the bag to 3 birds with only one being a hen. This idea was suggested by associates from Delta Waterfowl. I would be curious to know what is attributing to the population decline. Loss of habitat would make sense for the most likely cause. This is similar to what has happened over the years with the Black duck limit. There was discussion that due to the fact that Mallard and Black duck breeding grounds overlap, hybridization could have an affect on population numbers for the Black duck. I wonder if the inverse could be possible.

    For Geese I'm at a loss. The USFW divides the Atlantic Goose population into several categories. If you research the population survey numbers for the past few seasons for the North Atlantic Population (NAP) shows no real trend for increase or decrease in population but overlap from the Atlantic Population (AP) and Atlantic Resident population could throw the numbers. The AP unit does show a 30% decrease from the long term average. Right now CT has its goose hunting split into 3 zones. East of the CT river in the NAP-H zone they already reduced our limit to 2 and cut 10 days so old news for us. I'm curious if the APRFG unit will be an exception.

    This isn't anything new to anyone who's been waterfowl hunting a long time or knows someone who has. Limits and seasons have always been up and down, I just hope we're not witnessing the beginning of a downward slope. That's the whole point of a season reduction anyway. Thought it would be a good discussion for the site.

    I'm all for restrictions if it means we still have a season in 10 years. It's going to be a lot easier now to talk myself out of expanding the goose rig. I think what I have now will suffice for 2 birds

  2. #2
    14 pointer WoodsmanA's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Northwest CT
    I'm all for it. We have to put ourselves as conservationists first and hunters second. I'm generally more conservative than others with my feelings about numbers to take. For example, when I'm trapping beavers outside of a colony cull situation for work, I'm pretty rigid with only taking a small handful of beavers out of a site even if there are 10 or 20 swimming around. It's that thought of always leaving a stock for the future that was pounded so hard into my head. I know many of us feel that way. So seeing the bag limit reduced for mallards doesn't bother me at all. I've thought a lot about personally not taking mallards for a season or two. It's so hard when you're face to face with a group of mallards locked into your spread with cupped wings and feet down. And I'm not ignorant enough to assume that one person, myself, not shooting mallards for a couple seasons would have any positive effect on the populations of these birds. This thought is more for me personally in that if we are facing a dramatic decline of mallards and the fowl biologists can't figure out why, do I really want to be further contributing to their decline? I recall an article in DU Mag about how hunters don't truly affect the overall population of mallards given the sheer number of these birds. The science behind that article seemed sound on the surface but I still question it's legitimacy. If you look at local Connecticut mallards, you can't tell me that hunters don't have a negative effect of these birds' ability to expand and reproduce. October season comes around and what are we hunting? Local ducks - mallards, woodies, a few teal here and there. When a crew of fowlers hits a local swamp for a group of say, 10 mallards they have patterned, boom, how many of those ducks were just taken out of the local breeding equation for the following year? When that group is decimated, thats 10 less birds that migrate south with the weather and 10 less birds seen by hunters and bird watchers. 10 less birds that are able to mix and match during the dances and displays of the mating rituals. 10 less birds that can pass along their genetics. 10 less birds that return to their local breeding grounds after the winter. In my mind, no matter how you cut it, that's a negative effect on the potential of the birds - not at at flyway-in-total level, but at a local level.

    I don't believe that looking at the flyway population as a whole, in this specific case, really makes sense. Rather, we have to take individual situations in individual locales and start thinking about the multiple and various contributions to the decline of mallards and apply these situations one by one to the bigger picture overall. Assuming the local, year-round mallard population in Quebec or Connecticut or Maryland or anywhere else are all facing the same exact hardships seems to me to dilute the effectiveness of our solutions to the problem. How many farms across the AF are polluting waterways with manure and chemical runoff that are harming ducks and multiple other species? How many wetlands are being drained for building and how much habitat is destroyed for expansion purposes? How many predator populations, including hunters, are wiping out small pockets of breeding mallards? What's right for Connecticut may not be right for mallards in Newfoundland, Quebec, the coasts of Maine or anywhere else within their breeding range of the AF. Making assumptions is a dangerous game. Now I'm not a scientist or a biologist so I could be wayyyyy off base here. I'm sure there is so much happening behind the scenes that we in the general waterfowling public know nothing about. These are just my thoughts on the situation based on what I read in the fowling mags and online and in talking to state biologists.

    I think the Delta suggestions of a 3 bird limit being a bit less dramatic somewhat accounts for the fact that they are primarily representing hunters' rights before conservation. Don't get me wrong, they do a lot of great conservation work, but one additional bird doesn't affect anyone, anywhere when we are faced with a situation of decline and we don't know why. We should be thinking much more about the future of the mallard population in the AF, funding the research and working towards goals of sustainability rather than focusing on the handful of upset hunters who feel "violated." so to say. There are many other species of ducks out there and most of them are delicious and can be utilized in a dinner just as well as a mallard.

    As far as geese... yeah, I'm not so sure I agree. Based on what we see out in the field and on the water consistently year after year, I'd call the population static if not slightly increasing. But again, I'm no waterfowl biologist and my experience is very limited to just one tiny corner of one tiny state within a huge flyway. It will be very interesting to see what the next 10 years brings.
    Licensed Nuisance Wildlife Control Operator

  3. #3
    10 Point Mountain man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    North east of the south west
    They have to be proactive. Cant wait till the population levels are so low they axe the season all together.
    I'm not much of a duck hunter, I go for geese. I shoot ducks when they land in my spread and (obviously) when its in season.

    I have personally seen a lot less ducks in the past few years.

    As for geese, I am at a loss there. I dont see a need for a bag limit reduction but I respect their decision because I know the world doesnt revolve around me and I dont know all the facts that they do. As mentioned, I also support reductions now to help ensure a season down the road.

  4. #4
    An interesting thing, as far as Connecticut is concerned, is that some of the seasons, limits, and zones are based on banding and band returns. Next year will likely result in a restructuring in the AFRP and AP zones based on return numbers. The number variation is very small and may well have been skewed by several persons selling bands from harvested geese on sites like Ebay. Although the seller(s) are supplying the buyer with the harvest information, this is likely not being properly reported. Hypothetically, what's believed to be occurring, is that people from other flyways/States are buying Connecticut banded/harvested birds and then reporting it as harvested in their home State. Bragging rights, I guess? Although this is not unlawful, it is somewhat ethically questionable. One must question whether the profit from sale of a band (oddly enough, they do bring a fair amount) is worth the detriment to the biological data that that band was intended to provide.

  5. #5
    Spikehorn czins95's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Southwest, CT
    I may not have as many years invested in waterfowling yet, but in my time I've found a few things:

    1. Local hunters can have a huge effect on a small area, but the migration changes everything. If I hunted the ponds behind my old house in MA for three days, most birds would be dead or educated enough to know that place was no good. WoodsmanA pointed this out well and we all see it in the early season we have. However, I spoke with Kelly Kubrik (State Waterfowl biologist besides Min) and he said a significant part of our birds are shot down south, specifically wood ducks. Local hunters may have an affect that's more prominent here in CT, but when it gets cold, birds leave. At that point, it's the total number of hunters in the state that do the damage. Other states besides CT such as Delaware and Mayland have 3 times the density of hunter and 3 times the total number. We're experiencing a small piece of a big picture and we've got to keep that in mind with regulations. The book North American Waterfowl by Albert Day highlights early skepticism by sportmen of the 1930 in the face of the first sets of regulations. It's important to be open to things we don't see but....

    2. Nature is beyond hard to model, control, or account for. When I talked with my grandmother about my first duck hunting trip where I had downed two wood ducks, she was shocked as she had spent much of her adult life birdwatching with those birds being threatened and unhuntable just a few decades before. Conservation and proper management have led to recoveries of wood ducks and black ducks so that the limits are pretty generous today, but there are so many factors that came into play, it would be hard to label one single change or measure as the reason for success. Closed seasons, hen limits, dividing management zones for populations, investing in boxes, or simply buying land: all of these things can help boost a population in the right circumstance. Too many predators, a destruction of a food source, loss of habitat, overharvasting: all of these things could be the problem. Speaking again with Kelly, the biologists acknowledge that it's hard to find the source of a problem even when the symptoms are there. They do their best and keep the end goal in mind: ducks in the sky.

    Overall, if the reasonable measures from aerial surveys to band recoveries say the birds are down, I say bite the bullet and assume the birds are down. I'd rather sacrifice a few hunts and be more careful with the birds I take than know my kids will never get even a chance to duck hunt. Hunting isn't killing anymore. It's conservation and resource management, it's food on the table and traditions, it's being responsible and remembering how it used to be just decades ago.

  6. #6

    Additional information

    Follow the link
    Attached Files Attached Files



Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts