Attn: Atlantic flyway hunters.... - The Outdoor Community
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 12:27 PM Thread Starter
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Attn: Atlantic flyway hunters....



Atlantic Flyway Council and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are poised to reduce the mallard bag limit in the Atlantic Flyway from 4 to 2 birds per day starting with the 2019–2020 hunting. Mallards are managed as three distinct population units including Western (California, Oregon and Washington), Mid-continent (prairie pothole region, parklands and boreal forest) and Eastern (northeast states and eastern Canada). Bag limits and season lengths for the Atlantic Flyway are primarily influenced by the population status of eastern mallards through an adaptive harvest management (AHM) framework. Band recovery information suggests that most mallards harvested from North Carolina to eastern Canada are produced within the region. In recent years, the breeding population of mallards in eastern Canada has been stable but declining in the northeastern states especially New York and Pennsylvania. The decline is significant enough to cause the current AHM model to predict restrictive seasons in the Atlantic Flyway.

Based on historical records, mallards in northeastern North America were common migrants but rarely bred there. Depletion of wild stocks due to market gunning and later the outlawing of live decoys resulted in the wholesale release of captive mallards. Thus, the release of captive reared birds was likely more responsible for mallards appearing in the northeast than eastward expansion from the core range in the Prairie Pothole Region. In fact, recent genetic studies suggest eastern mallards are more closely related to Old World mallards than their prairie brethren. Manmade modifications to the landscape allowed mallards to nest in areas previously unexploited by the species and populations of mallards in the northeast grew significantly over time as they pioneered new habitat.

Duck harvest management in the Atlantic Flyway was historically based on the status of prairie ducks and later mallards via adaptive harvest management (AHM). Drastic population declines due to drought on the prairies during the 1980s, resulting restrictive seasons (3 birds/day and 30-day seasons) and band recovery data suggesting few prairie ducks are harvested in the Atlantic Flyway served as an impetus for data collection and investigating AHM for eastern mallards. Following a decade of data collection through the Atlantic Flyway Breeding Waterfowl Survey, the Eastern Survey Area Breeding Waterfowl Survey (Canada) and intensified preseason banding, an AHM model for eastern mallards was established in 2000 and has informed harvest management in the Atlantic Flyway to present.

The eastern mallard breeding population reached a peak of 1.1 million in 2004 but has significantly declined since and last year’s estimate was approximately 650,000. While the population in eastern Canada has largely been stable, it has been declining in the northeast U.S., especially in New York and Pennsylvania. The decline since 2004 represents about 420,000 birds and is significant enough for the current AHM model to recommend reduced hunter harvest.

The cause of the eastern mallard population decline is undetermined. Hypothesized reasons for the decline include loss of carrying capacity on breeding and non-breeding areas, reduction in “artificial” winter feeding activities in the NE states, over harvest, and the population exceeding carrying capacity and stabilizing at a lower equilibrium population near carrying capacity (e.g., like reintroduced wild turkey populations). Biologists are currently examining existing data sets (juvenile/adult age ratios and banding data) to identify potential issues with production and survival.

Atlantic Flyway biologists from the states and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are currently working towards a new multi-stock AHM model that will include mallards and four additional species including green-winged-teal, wood duck, ring-necked duck and goldeneye. Collectively, these species make up about 60% of the Atlantic Flyway duck harvest. Consequently, hunters will likely retain liberal or moderate season packages (60 and 45 days, respectively). Despite this forthcoming change, the Atlantic Flyway is proposing to reduce the mallard daily bag limit from 4 to 2 starting in 2019. Modeling suggests that reducing the bag in this manner will reduce harvest by 25% and achieve a sustainable harvest level.

Ramifications of the observed decline are complex and extend beyond eastern mallards. Like eastern mallards, the American black duck, a flagship species of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture and high priority NAWMP species, harvest is managed via a species-specific AHM model. Within the black duck AHM model it is hypothesized that the abundance of eastern mallards adversely impacts the black duck population via reduced production. The mechanism for this potential impact is via competition during the breeding season as these species are closely related both morphologically and genetically. There is also potential for hybridization between these two species where they overlap on non-breeding areas. Thus, there are potential tradeoffs when considering management decisions surrounding these two species.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 04:43 PM
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The black duck numbers used to be much higher than Mallards in PA and other NE states. When I got out of the Navy in 1968, black ducks and woodies were the prevalent ducks in Lebanon Co where I duck hunted. The destruction of their breeding habitat and the interbreeding with mallards due to low black duck numbers has kept black duck numbers low. I remember when the feds were unhappy about the states stocking mallards for this very reason. That is the main reason PA closed their duck farm in North west PA. It kinda seems counter productive to me to give the mallards more protection when they are part of the low black duck population equation. If you shoot a black duck and it has a white stripe both above and below the blue speculum, it is a black/mallard hi bred.
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 04:45 PM
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Good, could have told them the population was in trouble years ago. Now we need a reduction on the woodies. They will be next.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-27-2018, 05:25 PM
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So will the hen limit drop to 1 or will it stay at 2? To me, if guys can still take 2 hens out every day, it won't make any difference. I'm in favor of a splash limit, even if that means reducing to a 3 or 4 duck total. Either way, I'd rather see reduced limits than shorter seasons. It's better to see ducks and not be able to keep shooting than to be stuck at work because you have no better excuse.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 07:32 AM
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Seems weird to me, that raised the hen limit to (2), then the population is in trouble....HHmmmmmm......What's next? They just raised the black duck limit to 2/day, anyone else think they close it in about 5 years?

Unfortunatly, reduced days, "usually" comes hand in hand with reduced limits. I started duck hunting when it was 3 ducks/30 days, so anything above that is just a bonus to me.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 08:32 AM
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To all you hen mallard shooters........thanks. This year keep 'em flying.

Don't shoot brown ducks!!
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 09:58 AM
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Personally I'd be in favor of the reduced limit starting this coming season. Numbers have been declining for years and they keep telling us about record duck numbers? I enjoy hunting waterfowl as much or more than most but we also need to look out for the resource.
I think the three a day woodie and two blacks is a mistake for the long term as well, will have to wait and see.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 03:31 PM
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I enjoy duck hunting immensely, not as much as when my dog was still young enough to participate (she is going to be 13 in april). I have never been ab,le to put a limit of mallards on the ground for her in a season let alone a day. Her only banded duck was a hen mallard a young man shot and had no means to retrieve so i sent her, she did a great job on it and the young man was thrilled to have his first band !! (sucked for the hen and her drake friend who his father shot. In my circle the dog would have been awarded the band (still bummed I never got her or me for that matter a band)

I am all for the reduced bag limit on any and all species, Id brush them off and release them if it meant the ability to keep more birds in the sky and more retrieves for the dogs !!!
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 02-28-2018, 09:52 PM
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Saw about 9 woodies today as we put up 2 more wood duck nesting boxes. The places I hunt have tons of woodies - maybe its due to all the nesting boxes.
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-01-2018, 12:17 PM
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I wouldn't mind seeing the reduced limits this season instead of waiting until 2019. Def would like to see the hen limit go to 1 bird.
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