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Illinois waterfowling: Miller sticks with staff ideas

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More to come later, but here is the waterfowling recommendations from IDNR director Marc Miller, who stuck with staff suggestions for season starts.

The IDNR release:

IDNR Recommends Waterfowl Season Dates for 2010-11

Proposal to be sent to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for Approval

SPRINGFIELD, IL - The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) is recommending 60-day duck seasons in all zones, 85-day Canada goose seasons in the North and Central zones, and a 66-day Canada goose season in the South Zone for the 2010-11 waterfowl season.

The recommendations include opening the regular duck and Canada goose seasons on Oct. 16 in the North Zone, Oct. 30 in the Central Zone and Nov. 25 in the South Zone.

The recommendations also include a statewide September 2010 Canada goose season of Sept. 1-15, and a 16-day teal season of Sept. 4-19.

The state's proposed waterfowl seasons will be forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for final approval later this summer.

While Illinois is recommending duck season dates based on the expectation of a 60-day season, the USFWS will not determine the duck season length until late July.

"We expect these proposals will provide waterfowl hunters in Illinois with good opportunities this fall," said IDNR Director Marc Miller. "These recommendations are based on a thorough examination of results from our annual survey of hunter preferences, aerial waterfowl surveys; duck harvest data and weather data as we try to provide the best hunting opportunities possible in each zone."

Illinois established duck season dates for the North and Central zones for a five-year period beginning in 2006. The IDNR annually reviews the start date of the season in the South Zone and is recommending the later start alternative of Nov. 25 this year.

"The IDNR developed the five-year plan to provide waterfowl hunting season dates with the primary goals being to select season dates and zone lines that a) maximize hunter satisfaction by maximizing days afield and waterfowl numbers available to hunters, and b) that help retain and recruit waterfowl hunters," said John Buhnerkempe, chief of the IDNR Division of Wildlife Resources. "This plan resulted in standard season dates for the North and Central zones, and a decision to annually assess season dates in the South Zone because of the difficulties in meeting the conflicting demands of hunters in that part of the state."


Preliminary results of the 2009 Illinois Waterfowl Hunter Survey indicated that 56 percent of North Zone duck hunters thought last year's season dates of Oct. 17-Dec. 15 were about right, while 28 percent thought they were too early and 12 percent said they were too late. In the Central Zone, the survey indicated 53 percent of duck hunters thought last year's season dates of Oct. 31-Dec. 29 were about right, while 23 percent thought they were too early and 18 percent said they were too late.

"Wildlife Division staff recommended a later opening of the waterfowl seasons in the South Zone for 2010-11 based on a thorough analysis of data relevant to the goals established in the five-year plan," Buhnerkempe said. "The data, and hunter preference information from our annual hunter survey, were keys to our recommendation."

In the South Zone, the 2009-10 duck season dates were Nov. 14-Jan. 12. The preliminary results of the 2009 Illinois Waterfowl Hunter Survey showed 56 percent of duck hunters thought the season was too early, 28 percent thought it was about right, 12 percent thought it was too late, and 5 percent were not sure.

Asked for their preference for the 2010-11 season, 66 percent of South Zone duck hunters preferred a later season (Nov. 25-Jan. 23), while 29 percent preferred an earlier season (Nov. 13-Jan. 11).

"Our analysis of 10 years worth of data found - including five years each of early and late openers - suggests that a later start to the duck season in the South Zone has resulted in more hunter days afield and higher duck harvests than with earlier season dates," Buhnerkempe added. "Aerial duck survey data for the past 10 years indicated no difference in the number of duck use days in the South Zone if the season starts Nov. 13 versus Nov. 25."

Director Miller last February asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to consider changes to the current zone/split guidelines for the 2011-2015 duck seasons. Specifically, he requested consideration of an option that would allow Illinois to use up to four zones for duck hunting.

"Adding a fourth hunting zone in Illinois would make it easier to set season dates that meet hunter preferences, boost hunter satisfaction, and help retain and recruit hunters in the South Zone and throughout the state," Miller said. "In the meantime, we need to focus on using the best available information on hunter preference and on data that suggests when and where hunters can have the best opportunities in the field."

The recommendation for the regular Canada goose season calls for a continuous 85-day season in the North Zone ending next Jan. 8, a split 85-day season in the Central Zone ending next Jan. 31, and a split 66-day season in the South Zone ending next Jan. 31.

Illinois is also recommending snow goose seasons for 2010-11 that open with the regular waterfowl seasons and run continuously through the end of each zone's regular Canada goose season. Conservation Order snow goose hunting would open the day after the regular Canada goose season ends in each zone and would continue through Mar. 31, 2011. The white-fronted goose season opens later than the Canada goose season in the North and Central zones because federal rules allow only 72 days and there are more white-fronts in those zones later in the season.

The recommendation for the September 2010 Canada goose season (Sept. 1-15) includes a daily limit of five geese in the Northeast, North and Central zones and a daily limit of two geese in the South Zone.

Illinois' recommended 16-day teal hunting season of Sept. 4-19 has a daily limit of four teal (possession limit of eight).

The Illinois recommendations being forwarded to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 2010-11 waterfowl hunting seasons are outlined below (final approval is expected in August for the September Canada goose and teal seasons and in September for the regular duck and goose seasons).

PROPOSED 2010-2011 ILLINOIS WATERFOWL SEASONS
(COMPARED TO 2009-2010)


STATEWIDE

2010-2011 2009-2010

Sept. Canada Geese Sept. 1 - Sept. 15 Sept. 1 - Sept. 15
Teal Sept. 4 - Sept. 19 Sept. 5 - Sept. 20
_______________________________________________________________________
PROPOSED 2010 SEPTEMBER WATERFOWL SEASON
Limits

Species Season Dates Duration Bag Possession


Teal

Sept. 4 -19

16 days

4

8


Canada Goose
Sept. 1-15
15 days 5-Northeast, North &Central
2 - South 10 - Northeast, North &Central
4 - South

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on July 14, 2010 1:14 PM.

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