2014 - 15 Michigan Duck Season Recommendations Approved by NRC

As we all love the onset of duck season there are some new regulations that the Natural Resources Commission approved during their meeting on August 14 in Munising.
Mallard Duck Male Mallard in flight
Photo: wikimedia.org
The United States Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS) offered a 60-day season and six-duck daily limit based on an adaptive harvest management strategy using prairie pond numbers and mid-continent mallard abundance as a guide to season length and daily duck limit.  The Wildlife Division developed the following season dates for 2014 based on feedback from the Citizen Waterfowl Advisory Committee, and analysis of data on hunter opinions, migration timing and hunter success.
Change in duck season dates:
North Zone: -Sept 27 - Nov 23 -Nov 29 - Nov 30 Middles Zone: -Oct 4 - Nov 30 -Dec 13 - 14 South Zone: -Oct 11 - Dec 7 -Dec 27 - 28
The daily bag limit for ducks will be six ducks with the following species-specific restrictions: - 4 Mallards (no more than 2* of which may be female *new this year) - 1 Black Duck - 2 Northern Pintail - 3 Wood Ducks - 2 Redhead Ducks - 3 Scaup - 1 Canvasback In addition to the duck limit: - 5 Mergansers (only 2 of which may be Hooded Mergansers) The possession limit is 3 times the daily limit for ducks, coots and mergansers
Daily Taking of Mallard Hens
Federal frameworks have allowed a 2 mallard hen daily limit in all states of the Mississippi Flyway since 1997; however, Michigan has voluntarily maintained a 1 hen daily limit due to concerns about the Michigan mallard population numbers and a desire of hunters to be more conservative.  Recent research using abundance surveys and pre-hunting season banding of mallards among Great Lakes states has evaluated historic mallard population changes and effects of harvest.  Results suggest that mallard harvests in Michigan should be sustainable with an increase from 1 to 2 hen mallard daily limit.  Maintaining a 1 hen mallard daily limit may be unnecessarily restricting Michigan duck hunters.
The reasoning behind such recommendations were implemented based on scientific research that Hen Mallards survival rates will remain the same and the harvest rate is decreasing compared to previous years.
There are many benefits to the Hen Mallard change such as; synchronizing state regulation with federal frameworks, enhance recruitment and retention of hunters, decrease unintentional violations and will increase the flexibility for hunters.
The Department will maintain existing monitoring programs (population surveys, banding and harvest surveys) to evaluate their prediction that survival and abundance of mallards will not be affected by this regulation change.

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