I'm not sure of a few things - like the circles on page 5 - are they CI's from observations or CI's from the model. If the later, and I think they are because observations shouldn't change, some thing is terribly wrong. They are saying regulations should go liberal this year, but there is a big possibility that the proper course of action (was?) a closed season (red area in circle).
From what I see in that report, the way things were tweaked a little this year make the plan much less moderate in scope. Seasons are either Liberal or closed - not likely to be Mod or R and VR is never gonna happen. By narrowing the moderate range, the plan can propose a liberal season this year but still claim to be more conservative overall.
Maybe that is the "right way" to manage ducks - liberal or closed with very little middle ground - but it doesn't sound good on the surface. I'd sure like to hear what the informed people are syaing about it.
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.
Sarcasm::: 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. [/b]
After yakking with some informed folk, the changes to the AHM plan actually sounds reasonable. The big change was in the number of ducks "carried over" from previous years - was typically over estimated. The estimate technique has been lowered (less carry over) meaning the ducks we see/count must be due to production. Therefore, means we are producing more ducks than previously estimated. Therefore, reproduction is doing better than anticipated, even with poorer water conditions. The result is that liberal seasons should occur until things fall off the cliff. It's a cliff, not just a slope, due to the ever more sharp division the model puts between liberal (shoot-em) and closed (don't shoot em).
Another liberal season perspective communicated is "Shoot-em" this year because the population is going down hill with the drought whether we shoot-em or not. Sending more back in the spring won't mean more ducks in the fall. Kinda goes against the "hen in freezer has zero chance of nesting" theory, but that's probably a dumb theory anyhow.
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