September 14, 2012
By Jeff Weakley
There's a lot going on this month for waterfowl hunters in Florida.
For one, we have the Sept. 22-26 Early Season Teal and Wood Duck hunting dates. During this period, licensed hunters will be permitted to take up to 4 ducks per day (teal or wood duck only), no more than 2 of which may be wood ducks. Get the complete regs here. Will there be any of those fast-flying, great-eating bluewing or greenwing teal around? Hard to say, but recent reports indicate a record-breaking migration is coming. Check this news item.
Thanks to Tropical Storm Isaac and recent cold fronts, those teal and resident wood ducks will find a lot of water pooled up in the Florida hill country and peninsular pinelands and marshes.
Be especially careful to identify your target during that Early Season, particularly during that half-hour before sunrise.
Also, Sept. 1-26 represents Early Season Canada Goose dates. In past years, the birds have been primarily associated with Lake Seminole, on the Florida-Georgia border, but sources indicate they're spreading out, and the season is open statewide. More details to come next week!
And last but not least, lucky hunters who submitted for limited entry permits on Stormwater Treatment Areas (STAs) and other prime public marshes will be picking up their permits and making plans for those November through January hunting dates. Note that there's a Second Phase permit period, in which you might score a first-come, first-served permit out of the remaining pool of unfilled permits (though our guess is this is a very small pool: a puddle if even a drop).
Also this week we received some good news on the management front, as the federal government announced a $30 million injection into waterfowl marshes and public hunting areas. Reprinted below is a newsletter from Ducks Unlimited.
--Jeff Weakley, Editor
From Ducks Unlimited
Waterfowl, hunters to benefit from nearly $30 million federal investment
Funds to expand national wildlife refuges, conserve wetlands and open doors for waterfowl hunters in the coming season
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe yesterday announced a landmark investment of nearly $30 million in the future of wetlands, waterfowl and public waterfowl hunting across the country through expanded refuges and hunting programs.
Breaking down the total, nearly $11 million in revenue from the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund will add more than 10,000 wetland acres to seven units in the National Wildlife Refuge System, and an additional $18.4 million in federal funding will conserve more than 95,000 acres of wetlands and associated habitat under the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Expanded hunting activities will also be added on 16 national wildlife refuges in 14 states, including several new and enhanced migratory bird hunting opportunities.
"These improvements to the National Wildlife Refuge System are essential to the future of waterfowl and waterfowling, and the thanks go in large part to the very Americans who stand to benefit most—hunters. In buying their duck stamps year after year, these dedicated outdoorsmen are ensuring a future for wetlands conservation and enjoyment of these refuges for generations to come," said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall. "Along with additional areas to hunt come a host of other outdoor recreation opportunities for all ages inside our nation's refuges, as well as the lasting benefits of conserving wetland acres—flood storage, improved water quality and storm protection."
The expanded refuge hunting is intended to fulfill the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, which helped establish public hunting opportunities on more than 300 national wildlife refuges nationwide, as well as fishing opportunities on more than 270.
"By expanding hunting in our National Wildlife Refuge System, we are supporting a heritage that has been handed down from generations and helping to achieve the goal of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative to connect Americans to the natural world through outdoor recreation," said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar. "Hunters have been a mainstay of conservation in America for more than 100 years, and expanding hunting opportunities helps ensure that we will have the resources to care for our wildlife and its habitat in the future."
The refuges gaining new or broader areas for migratory bird hunting under this expansion include Big Muddy National Fish and Wildlife Refuge in Missouri, Bond Swamp National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) inGeorgia, Chickasaw and Lower Hatchie NWRs in Tennessee, Saddle Mountain (Hanford Reach) NWR in Washington, Julia Butler Hanson Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer in Oregon, Minnesota Valley NWR in Minnesota, Red Rock Lakes NWR in Montana and Upper Ouachita NWR in Louisiana.
As waterfowl hunters gear up for opening day this fall, the Ducks Unlimited Migration Map will offer an up-to-date, convenient source of information on national wildlife refuges for waterfowling and other outdoor recreation. To find a local NWR, visit www.ducks.org/migrationmap and click on "National Wildlife Refuges" in the map toolbox on the left side of the page. Small Canada goose icons represent the locations of all NWRs and "learn more" links provide an expanded look at public hunting, fishing and other recreation opportunities at each refuge.
Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, DU is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, with special events, projects and promotions across the continent. Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever. For more information on our work, visit www.ducks.org. Connect with us on our Facebook page at facebook.com/ducksunlimited, follow our tweets at twitter.com/ducksunlimited and watch DU videos at youtube.com/ducksunlimitedinc.