Public asked to weigh in on waterfowl hunting season
CONCORD — The Fish and Game Department will hold a public meeting Aug. 13 on proposed season dates and bag limits for the 2014 waterfowl hunting season.
The proposed season is similar to last year’s, with the overall duck season 60 days and a daily bag limit of six birds. The significant change is for the Canada goose, with the season increased 10 days to 70 days, and the daily bag limit increasing from two to three birds.
Unlike deer and moose, migratory birds do not stay in a limited area, so hunting dates and limits are not set by the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department.
Kent Gustafson, the department’s Wildlife Programs administrator, said: “It’s big-picture management.” As a result, he said, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assesses the flyway population and determines how many days and bag limits are appropriate.
“There is some flexibility in that range,” said Gustafson. The season for resident Canada geese is Sept. 2-25, with a daily limit of five birds. Gustafson said the resident geese are a particular problem for golf courses, where they have a virtually unlimited area of grass for grazing and a plentiful water supply. Because they tend to return to the same locations, or stay, their populations are also a problem in parks and even private lawns and pools and goose droppings and feathers are a significant issue.
Waterfowl biologist Jessica Carloni said waterfowl surveys indicate higher duck and goose populations than in recent years.
This is “likely due to the abundant snowmelt and spring precipitation providing improved breeding habitat conditions,” Carloni said in a Fish and Game news release.
Gustafson said the waterfowl population is much larger than it used to be, but the number of hunters has stabilized.
“It’s a rural tradition,” he said.
He said hunters “love to see their retrievers” at work. It’s a form of recreation that can provide a bonus: a good meal.
The Fish and Game Department has released seasons and limits for a number of game birds, for which a hunting license, a migratory waterfowl license and a federal duck stamp are required.
Youths under 16, who get one waterfowl hunting weekend, Sept. 27-28, need only the federal duck stamp. But they must bring along a licensed hunter, who can’t hunt that weekend.
As for some other migratory game, for sea ducks, the season is Oct. 1 to Jan. 15, 2015, and the limit is seven, with no more than four scoters, four eiders or four long-tailed ducks. Woodcock season is Oct. 1 to Nov. 14, with a limit of three birds per day.
And contrary to what some people may think, there really are snipes and a snipe-hunting season, Sept. 15 to Nov. 14, with a daily limit of eight birds. Gustafson suggests knowing the person well who sends you on “a snipe hunt.”
The one bird for which there is no limit during the fall season, from Aug. 15 through Nov. 30, is the crow. The spring crow season will be March 16-31, 2015.
The public meeting is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 13, at Fish and Game headquarters, 11 Hazen Drive, Concord.