By Kyle Wintersteen, Managing Editor
Great news: Under the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Proposed 2020-2021 Frameworks for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations, U.S. waterfowlers will again enjoy liberal season lengths this fall, including 60 days in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways, 74 days in the Central Flyway and 107 days in the Pacific Flyway. The frameworks, which are based on spring 2019 breeding population surveys, 2018-2019 hunter harvest estimates and other data, include a seven-duck limit in the Pacific Flyway, and a six-duck limit across all others.
However, certain species-specific limits will remain conservative or see further reductions.
The most significant change is sure to disappoint diver hunters: Due to a 10 percent decline among bluebills in the 2019 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, limits have been lowered in all flyways. The Atlantic Flyway will permit one bluebill daily for 40 days of the season, and two daily for 20 days. Mississippi Flyway hunters may shoot two bluebills daily for 45 days, and one per day during the other portion. The Central Flyway limit is one bluebill per day for the duration of the season, while Pacific Flyway hunters may bag two daily for 86 days.
Two redheads and two canvasbacks may be shot per day in all flyways.
A nationwide limit of one pintail daily remains in place in the continental United States for the 2020-2021 season. Delta Waterfowl continues to research pintail production and survival rates in hopes of expanding future hunting opportunities.
The Duck Hunters Organization is also researching the key breeding areas of eastern mallards to help the population rebound. However, following a two percent decline in the 2019 survey, the Atlantic Flyway will again face a two mallard (one hen) daily limit in the coming season. Fortunately, two black ducks per day will be permitted for the fourth straight year.
Mallard limits are unchanged elsewhere, with daily limits of four (two hens) in the Mississippi Flyway, five (two hens) in the Central and seven (two hens) in the Pacific.