Welcome to the world of duck politics.
The last go around, say about 15 - 20 years ago ... the USF&WS had a plan where they wanted to leave all seasons and limits the same for five to seven years. :huh: The problem with that concept was it coincided with a pretty strong prairie drought. :huh: When they finally decided to react it was from long seasons and five duck limits (actually 7 duck limit in ND with the bonus 2 teal) to 3 duck limit and 45 day season (30 days in the MS flyway). Southern hunters were hit even harder ... Long, long ago the 10 points ducks enabled them to legally shoot 10 ducks / day.
Gradual reductions in season length and limits may be easier for hunters to adjust to than big changes, but I would GUESS the models are weighted pretty heavily towards a liberal season. :strapped:
Just like the ND G&F people may have been ignored by the politicians (or worse yet influenced); so are the Feds. What would each of you do if your job was dependent upon decision too?
They need to feed the family first. Ever notice how many game wardens and biologists begin to speak out once they retire or join private companies.
Dr. Cox I believe is with the US Geological Survey department or is he with the USF&WS and simply stationed at the USGS Prairie Research Station. Probably nice to be less impacted by the USF&WS politics.
Leave the season open.
The ducks did fine through the last drought and will make it through the next.
Man can certainly aide them by shooting less birds when the overall population is stressed due to drought or simply lower in numbers.
Look at pheasants vs ND winters just like ducks vs drought. Duck populations will cycle with water conditions on the breeding range.
Ducks are like many other species of wild animals (pheasants, mice, etc..). Given the right habitat and breeding conditions ducks numbers will explode in numbers in just a few short years after the next drought ends.
Maybe there is no drought yet at all. Based on the experts' opinion, the dry conditions through much of Canada, MT, and ND do not warrant any changes this year either.
Not my opinion, but appears to be the consensus of many experts and models.
Shorter hunting seasons will keep someone interested in protecting ducks and long term habitat ... the dry potholes need to be protected too. Drain tiled wetlands will not refill no matter how much rain or snow returns to the prairie.