2009-2010 PA Migratory Bird Hunting Seasons and Bag Limits
HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania Game Commission Executive Director Carl G. Roe today announced that the agency has made its selections for the 2009-10 migratory game bird hunting seasons and bag limits.
Annual waterfowl seasons are selected by states from a framework established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Game Commission selections were made after reviewing last year’s season results, waterfowl survey data, and input gathered from waterfowl hunters and the public. Final approval from the USFWS is expected by late September.
Roe also noted that the Game Commission again has posted the waterfowl season brochure and maps on its website (www.pgc.state.pa.us). The agency currently is mass-producing brochures to be distributed to U.S. Post Offices within the next two weeks.
“Many hunters already have purchased their hunting licenses and federal waterfowl stamps in anticipation of the season,” Roe said. “For their convenience, in addition to being able to pick up the waterfowl brochure and maps at post offices and license issuing agents, hunters can obtain this important information from the Game Commission’s website.”
John Dunn, Game Commission Game Bird Section supervisor, said generally good breeding conditions for waterfowl in eastern Canada and improved water levels in the prairies of the northcentral United States and Canada will result in increased fall flights of ducks this fall. As a result, Pennsylvania again will have a 60-day duck season.
“There is good news for diving duck hunters in Pennsylvania this year,” Dunn said. “The breeding populations of canvasbacks increased by 38 percent, to 662,000 birds, and scaup numbers have increased to above four million for the first time this decade. Therefore, duck hunters will see liberalizations from 2008 that will allow for one canvasback and two scaup daily bag limits throughout the 60-day duck season.”
Dunn noted that, while most duck populations benefitted from improved nesting conditions this year, most goose populations experienced poor production, because of a record late snow melt across northern Canada.
“These poor nesting conditions resulted in reduced nesting effort and poor gosling production for the Atlantic and Southern James Bay populations of Canada geese, which are important to Pennsylvania goose hunters,” Dunn said. “Pennsylvania’s resident Canada goose population, which nests in more temperate conditions than sub-arctic nesting geese, has been stable and has enabled us to again offer liberal hunting regulations for this coming year.
“In contrast to other eastern Arctic nesting goose species, snow goose breeding populations reached an all-time high of 1.4 million birds and, with higher-than-normal nest densities and good nest success, should result in a record fall flight of snow geese. To help reduce this overabundant population, Pennsylvania will again offer liberal seasons and bag limits, including expanded dates during the Snow Goose Conservation Season, first implemented in 2009.”
Specifics about the Snow Goose Conservation Season in 2010 will be published later this year.
Once again, young hunters will be provided with a special day of waterfowl hunting on Saturday, Sept. 19. The Youth Waterfowl Day will be open to those 12-15 years of age. To participate, a youngster must hold a junior hunting license and migratory game bird license, and be accompanied by an adult, who may assist the youth in calling, duck identification and other aspects of the hunt. During this special day-long hunt, youth can harvest ducks, mergansers, coots and moorhens, as well as Canada geese, depending upon the zones that they are hunting in. Youth Waterfowl Day bag limits for ducks, mergansers and coots will be consistent with the limit for the regular season.
Also, this agency again will hold a special youth-only waterfowl hunting day at the controlled hunting blinds at both Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area and Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area. The youth day for Middle Creek is Nov. 21, for Pymatuning, Nov. 28. A special drawing of applications submitted by junior license holders will be held immediately before the regular drawing for goose blinds. Interested youth should use the same application on page 26 of the 2009-10 Digest. Only one application will be accepted per junior hunter.
In addition to a regular Pennsylvania hunting license, persons 16 and older must have a Federal Migratory Bird and Conservation Stamp, commonly referred to as a “Duck Stamp,” signed in ink across its face. All waterfowl hunters, regardless of age, must have a Pennsylvania Migratory Game Bird License to hunt waterfowl and other migratory birds, including doves, woodcock, coots, moorhens, rails and snipe. All migratory game bird hunters in the United States are required to complete a Harvest Information Program survey when they purchase a state migratory game bird license. The survey information is then forwarded to the USFWS.
“By answering the questions on the survey card, hunters will improve survey efficiency and the quality of information used to track the harvest of migratory birds for management purposes,” Dunn said.
Hunters must use non-toxic shot while hunting ducks, geese or coots in Pennsylvania. The use of decoys powered or operated by batteries or any other source of electricity is unlawful in Pennsylvania. Also, the use of any sort of artificial substance or product as bait or an attractant is prohibited.
Dunn noted that, although hunting hours have been extended to one-half hour after sunset for big game (except spring gobbler), as well as small game and furbearers, federal regulations prevail for waterfowl and migratory game birds, so shooting hours for these species will continue to close at sunset. The only exception to this is during the early September Canada goose season and the Snow Goose Conservation Season, in which the USFWS has permitted states to extend the hunting hours to one-half hour after sunset; and the first part of the dove season (Sept. 1-26), when hunting hours are from noon through sunset.
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