DNR question of the week: Who decides hunting dates, limits?Question: How does Minnesota decide the date for the waterfowl opener, season length and bag limit?
By: Department of Natural Resources, Alexandria Echo Press
Editor's note: The following "question of the week" is provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resouces (DNR).
Question: How does Minnesota decide the date for the waterfowl opener, season length and bag limit?
Answer: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, with input from the states and flyway councils, determines the annual waterfowl hunting frameworks, which include the earliest opening and latest closing dates, maximum season length, and duck bag limits. For the regular duck season, these guidelines are the same for all states in the Mississippi Flyway, including Minnesota. States have the option to be more restrictive than the Federal frameworks.
States in the Mississippi Flyway can set their regular waterfowl seasons anytime between the Saturday nearest Sept. 24 through the last Sunday in January. However from 2005-2010, state law prevented Minnesota from opening waterfowl season earlier than the Saturday nearest Oct. 1.
In July, that law was changed to allow Minnesota to use the earlier opening date allowed in other states in the Flyway.
Currently, there are three different regulatory packages used for season lengths and bag limits in the Mississippi Flyway. These include: liberal (60 days, six duck bag, four mallards), moderate (45 days, six duck bag, four mallards) and restrictive (30 days, three duck bag, two mallards) seasons.
Each year, the package selected is determined based on the continental status of breeding mallards and habitat conditions. In addition, there are other regulations, such as one bird bag limits or closed seasons, used for certain species like pintails, canvasbacks, or scaup. These are determined based on their breeding population size and expected harvest.
The DNR considers all these options, along with the both the status of our local breeding duck populations and public input from waterfowl hunters, before announcing waterfowl hunting regulations each fall.
– Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl staff specialist