Atlantic Flyway Report

I attended the Atlantic Flyway Council October meetings in Jacksonville, Florida this year. This meeting schedule is new, and reflects a shift in focus from a former “hurry -up” offense to a more sensible “let’s not be too hasty” approach to meetings about waterfowl management in the Atlantic Flyway. A major benefit of this new schedule is that we will now know the season length and bag limits on most duck species several months in advance of the opening day of the new season. A secondary benefit is the fact that the States now have sufficient time to publish the information in their Hunting Guides and Brochures. The meeting officially opened with an address by Paul Padding, United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)

Representative for the Atlantic Flyway Council. He spoke about a variety of issues, but what stuck out in my mind was the many cuts in staffing, programs, and funding that has occurred in the past several years. He mentioned that within the USFWS there were “many vacancies” in the Migratory Bird Division, including three vacancies out of the Four Branch Chiefs! Congressional appropriations and thus funding for migratory birds is now 20% less than 2010 levels. The Annual Migratory Bird Hunter Activity and Harvest Report this year has been delayed because of staffing needs. Trends in Duck BPOP Reports are no longer produced, the Annual Waterfowl Status Video is also no longer produced, The U.S. duck harvest was down 17% compared to the year before. Also, the number of active duck hunters was down 10%, and days afield were down by 8%. In the Atlantic Flyway last year, estimates of ducks bagged per hunter in 8 of 17 states were lowest, and in 3 states, second lowest, since the start of the HIP program in 1999.

On a brighter note, Paul gave us an update on the Federal Duck Stamp Print. You may remember in the last newsletter, we included a picture of this year’s Trumpeter Swans duck stamp, and we talked about the annual contest complete with a proposal to include non-migratory birds in the rules requirements. Well, the new contest is over, and next year’s duck stamp will have Canada Geese as the subject. Furthermore, the good news is that the USFWS has cancelled the proposed rule that non-game birds be included in the artwork submissions!! The 2017-2018 Waterfowl season will be very similar in season length and bag limit as compared to the current one. There are a few notable differences, however. The biggest change (in the plus column) and one that some duck hunters have waited decades for, is concerned with the bird pictured here. That’s right! The Black Duck.

For the 2017–2018 hunting season, and for the first

time in 34 years, the bag limit on black ducks will 

be 2 birds per day!