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Sunday, August 12, 2012 - Page updated at 10:30 p.m.
Waterfowl hunters seem headed for great season
By Mark Yuasa
Seattle Times staff reporter
The statewide waterfowl seasons have been set at a liberal 107 hunting days, and hunters might see another record fall and winter.
"Overall, things are looking pretty good with a lot of positives," said Don Kraege, a state Fish and Wildlife waterfowl manager. "We have higher (waterfowl) numbers again this year, so it could be another record year."
The season opens Oct. 13-16, and then continues from Oct. 20 to Jan. 27. There will be a special youth waterfowl hunt on Sept. 22-23.
The 2011-12 season was a record with 522,600 ducks harvested compared to 287,600 in 2010-11; 380,790 in 2009-10; 399,150 in 2008-09; 452,550 in 2007-08; 496,400 in 2006-07; and 396,230 in 2005-06.
In Washington, the high duck forecasts are based on early surveys in northern breeding grounds.
Waterfowl counts in Alaska, as well as southern and northern Alberta, both had sharp increases, which are important areas to our regional flyway. Duck production was down 20 to 30 percent in those areas last year, but has since recovered.
Earlier this summer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its preliminary report on North American breeding ducks and habitat, and the population is about 48.6 million compared to 45.6 million last year. That figure is also 43 percent above the 1955 to 2010 long-term average.
This year's estimate is a record high, and only the sixth time in the survey's history that the total duck population exceeded 40 million, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Special limits for hen mallard, pintail, redhead, canvasback, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck are identical to 2011.
However, bag limits and an early season closure have been eliminated for scaup, which significantly increased in numbers throughout North America.
"The scaup bag limit is three as part of the general seven duck limit," Kraege said. "Most hunters were only getting one or two (scaup) per bag, and this new limit will only increase the harvest by 10 percent."
New this hunting season is a $10 fine for failing to report the harvest of several specific waterfowl species. Hunters who fail to report brant and sea ducks in Western Washington, and snow goose in Goose Management Area 1 will face the new penalty. Hunters will have to pay when applying for a 2013 special migratory bird hunting authorization.
This was created to boost the reporting numbers state Fish and Wildlife get annually from hunters.
Calling all duck callers
The Washington Waterfowl Association Yakima Valley Chapter is hosting the State Duck Calling Championship 7 a.m. Aug. 25 at Columbia Park in Kennewick.
The event categories are: Washington Duck Calling Championship (winner qualifies for the World Duck Calling Championship to be held Thanksgiving weekend at Stuggart, Ark.); Open Duck Calling Contest (open to all callers); Junior Duck Calling contest (open to ages 11-17); Pee-Wee Duck (open to all children under the age of 11); Two-Man Duck (open to all ages); Junior Goose (open to ages 11-17); Washington Goose (open to Washington residents only); Open Goose Contest (open to all callers); and Two-Man Goose Contest (open to all callers). For details, call Abel A. Cortina at 509-786-9196.
Mark Yuasa: 206-464-8780 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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