Mallard bag limit expected to be cut next year; opinions sought on long-term management.
Due to declines throughout the northeastern United States, the daily bag limit for mallards in the Atlantic Flyway for the 2019-20 seasons likely will be reduced to two per day, and Pennsylvania’s waterfowl hunters are encouraged to participate in an online survey that will contribute to developing a longer-term management strategy for Atlantic Flyway mallards.
Mallards are the most common duck species harvested in Pennsylvania, accounting for about half of the state’s total duck harvest.
Most mallards harvested in Pennsylvania travel from breeding areas in eastern Canada and the northeastern United States.
But while mallard populations appear relatively stable in eastern Canada, throughout the past 15 to 20 years, populations have declined by about 40 percent in the northeastern United States.
Pennsylvania’s breeding mallard population has declined by about 50 percent.
As an interim step in addressing these declines, the Atlantic Flyway Council has recommended, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has preliminarily approved, a reduction in the species-specific daily bag limit for mallards in the Atlantic Flyway beginning in the 2019-20 hunting season. The bag limit will be reduced from four mallards (of which no more than two may be hens) to two mallards (of which no more than one may be a hen).
In the longer term, Atlantic Flyway managers are developing a harvest strategy to guide harvest regulations for mallards. In addition to data on the biological sustainability of various levels of harvest, strategy development will require information on hunter preferences.
To begin gathering hunter preference information, a flyway-wide hunter survey has been developed. Pennsylvania waterfowl hunters are encouraged to visit https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/4644908/AF-mall-PA
and respond to the 5- to 10-minute survey. Responses are desired from both avid duck hunters, and those who hunt ducks only occasionally.
The survey will remain open until Nov. 23.
“Different hunters and hunters in different areas might have differing opinions on how mallards best can be managed to provide the best hunting experience, both now and decades from now,” said Ian Gregg, who heads the Game Commission’s Game Management Division. “Some might prefer less-restrictive bag limits, even though it might mean seeing fewer mallards. Others might disagree.
“But the best way for them to make their voices heard on this issue is to take a few minutes to take the survey,” Gregg said. “All opinions matter.”