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Paynesville Press - August 16, 2006

Minnesota maintains duck limits for 2006

Like last year, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has established a 60-day duck hunting bag limit for 2006 that is more conservative than the regulatory structure allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Last week's announcement of a four-duck limit that allows only one hen is identical to last year's regulation but less than the six-duck, two-hen limit the federal government allows under the so called "liberal" hunting framework.

"We did not come to this decision lightly," said Dave Schad, director of the DNR Division of Fish and Wildlife. "In the end, however, we agreed to this approach because we have been hearing loud and clear from duck hunters to take a conservative approach. That input, as well as increasing concern for local breeding duck populations and implications of a severe drought, were the key elements in our decision making."

Schad said recent DNR hunter survey data indicates about 85 percent of duck hunters supported the four-bird limit or an even more restrictive regulation last year.

Based on an increase in breeding waterfowl populations and pond numbers across Canada and the northern plains, states in the Mississippi Flyway, including Minnesota, were offered a 60-day season that could include a six-duck limit with two hen mallards.

However, this spring's breedingduck numbers in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin were down; Minnesota's were the lowest in 20 years. As a result, Minnesota will stay with the conservative limit introduced last year.

"The four-duck bag limit was well accepted by Minnesota duck hunters last year," said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. "Given what we know about Minnesota's breeding duck numbers this year, it seems prudent to take a conservative approach to duck limits again this year."

The daily bag limit for both canvasbacks and pintails will be one for the entire season. "Both species responded well to improved habitat conditions in southern Canada this spring," Cordts said.

Bag limits for all other species will be the same as last season except the bag limit for hooded mergansers will be increased from one to two.

Duck Season
The regular waterfowl season will open on Saturday, Sept. 30, at 9 a.m. and continue through Tuesday, Nov. 28. The four-duck bag may include no more than one hen mallard, one black duck, one pintail, one canvasback, two wood ducks, two redheads, and two scaup. Possession limits remain at twice the daily bag limits.

Except for opening day, when shooting hours will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., shooting hours will be from one half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Friday, Oct. 6, and from one half hour before sunrise to sunset thereafter.

Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used from the opening day of duck season through Saturday, Oct. 7. Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory birds may not be used at any time during the season on water bodies and lands fully contained within state wildlife management area boundaries.

Additional details on the duck, goose and migratory bird hunting seasons will be available in the 2006 Minnesota Waterfowl Hunting Regulations, available in late August.

Youth Waterfowl Day
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16. Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a nonhunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required). Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from one half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect.

Five geese may be taken, except in the Metro, Southeast and Northwest goose zones and Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area and Swan Lake area, where the bag limit is one. There are no license requirements, except hunters age 13 to 15 must have a firearms safety certificate in their possession. All other migratory bird hunting regulations apply.

Goose Seasons
Minnesota goose hunters will have additional opportunities to harvest geese this season, particularly in western Minnesota.

The daily bag limit has been raised to two Canada geese statewide this year. In addition, the season length in the west goose zone has been extended through Tuesday, Nov. 28.

"We're attempting to provide additional hunting opportunity aimed at resident giant Canada geese while minimizing impacts to the migrant Eastern Prairie Population of Canada geese that migrate through the state later in the fall," Cordts said. Resident Canada goose numbers remain high and well above our statewide goal. The Eastern Prairie Population Canada geese have been relatively stable over time.

"We have not had a two Canada goose bag limit around the Lac qui Parle Wildlife Management Area since the late 1960s, so we will be carefully monitoring the effects of this expanded opportunity," Cordts said.

Minnesota's regular goose season will open in conjunction with duck season on Saturday, Sept. 30, except for the Canada goose season in the west-central goose zone, which will open on Thursday, Oct. 19. The regular goose season will close on Monday, Nov. 27, in the west central zone; Tuesday, Nov. 28, in the west zone, and Friday, Dec. 8, in the remainder of the state. Possession limits remain at twice the daily bag limit.

Early Goose Season
The early Canada goose season will open statewide on Saturday, Sept. 2. The September season is designed to maintain high harvest pressure on Minnesota-breeding Canada geese. The early season is open through Friday, Sept. 22, except in the northwest zone where it is open through Friday, Sept. 15. Bag limits for Canada geese will be five per day, except in the southeast zone, where the bag limit will be two. A $4 permit, valid for both early and late season goose hunting is required.

The restriction prohibiting hunting within 100 yards of surface water remains in effect in the northwest, southeast, and metro goose zones, Carlos Avery Wildlife Management Area, and an area surrounding Swan Lake in Nicollet County. Early season goose hunters should consult the 2006 Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Supplement for details.

Late Goose Seasons
December Canada goose seasons will be offered statewide except in the west-central goose zone. Late season hunters must have a $4 permit, which is valid for both early and late special goose seasons. The late season will be open from Saturday, Dec. 9, to Monday, Dec. 18, except in the southeast goose zone, where the season will be open from Friday, Dec. 15 to Sunday, Dec. 24.

Bag limits for Canada geese during this season will be five per day, except in the southeast goose zone, where the bag limit will be two.

The season for light geese (snow, blue, and Ross' geese), white-fronted geese, and brant will be from Saturday, Sept. 30, to Sunday, Dec. 24. The daily limit will be 20 light geese, one white-fronted goose, and one brant goose.

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