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Media Contact: Steve Lightfoot, 512-389-4701, steve.lightfoot@tpwd.texas.gov [SL]

TPWD Website: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us

TPWD News Release — May 30, 2006

Hunter’s Choice Bag Tops List of Migratory Bird Proposals

AUSTIN, Texas — Pending U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decision in July, Texas duck hunters could get a “partial-mulligan” on their duck straps during the next three seasons.

A Central Flyway experimental bag configuration would create the “Hunter’s Choice” that would help eliminate the confusing season-within-a-season framework for less abundant bird species such as pintail and canvasbacks. If implemented by the Service the bag limit drops from 6 to 5 birds overall.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department announced the potential option as part of proposed changes to the migratory game bird hunting regulations for 2006-07.

The “Hunter’s Choice” proposal would allow hunters to shoot five ducks daily in one of two categories. In the "aggregate category" of less abundant ducks, one of those birds could be either a pintail, or a canvasback, or a “dusky duck” (mottled, black duck or Mexican-like duck) or a hen mallard.

Including hen mallards in the category would create a buffer to help reduce the harvest of the less-abundant pintails and canvasbacks.

“If this experiment works well, it could help us preserve season long hunting opportunities with other stocks of ducks that get down low, like scaup,” said Vernon Bevill, TPWD migratory game bird program director.

The proposal would make the regulations less complex and eliminate the risk of hunters accidentally shooting a pintail or canvasback during the closed portions of the duck season, since the season-within-a-season takes place only during the last 39-days of the regular duck season.

“They could shoot that first duck without fear of violating the regulations all season long,” Bevill noted.

Within the Central Flyway, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Texas and Kansas would offer the Hunter's Choice limits in the trial. Harvest results would be compared to the five states in the flyway not participating in the experiment.

Proposed dove season dates remain virtually unchanged from last year other than calendar shifts.

The proposed season dates and bag limits for mourning dove are:

North Zone: Sept 1-Oct. 30 with a 15-bird daily bag limit.

Central Zone: Sept. 1-Oct. 30 and Dec. 26-Jan. 4 with a 12-bird daily bag limit.

South Zone: Sept. 22-Nov. 12 and Dec. 26-Jan. 12 with a 12-bird daily bag limit.

In the Special White-winged Dove Area in the South Zone, the season would run Sept. 2, 3, 9, 10 then Sept. 22-Nov. 12 and Dec. 26-Jan. 8. During the first two weekends, the bag limit would be 12 in the aggregate, no more than 4 mourning dove or 2 white-tipped dove. The bag limit for the remainder of this season would be the same as the rest of the South Zone, except only 2 white-tipped dove daily.

For rails, gallinule, woodcock and snipe, TPWD is proposing the following:

Rail and Gallinule: Sept. 16-24 and Nov. 4-Jan. 3.

Snipe: Nov. 4-Feb. 18.

Woodcock: Dec. 18-Jan. 31

For the duck hunting seasons, TPWD is proposing the following:

Early Teal: Sept. 9-24 if the Service provides for a 16-day season, otherwise, Sept. 16-24.

High Plains Mallard Management Unit: Youth Only Oct. 14-15. General Season Oct. 21-22 and Oct 27-Jan. 28.

Remainder of State (North/South Zones): Youth Only Oct. 28-29. General Season Nov. 4-26 and Dec. 9-Jan. 28

If the Service does not approve the “Hunter’s Choice” option, the proposed aggregate daily bag limit for ducks would be 6, no more than 5 mallards (only 2 hens), 2 scaup, 2 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 1 “dusky duck” (mottled duck, black duck or Mexican-like duck), and 1 pintail and 1 canvasback (restricted season for both pintail and canvasback at this time). The daily bag limit for mergansers would be 5 (only 1 hooded merganser) and the daily bag limit on coots would be 15.

For geese, a potential increase in the bag limit for dark geese in the Western Zone is being considered, as is the discontinuance of the Light Goose Conservation Order.

In 1999, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued the first Conservation Order Light Goose Season to encourage hunters to harvest additional light geese. Harvest surveys indicate the Conservation Order has become less effective in Texas during recent years with declines in both hunter participation and light geese harvest.

Here's what's being proposed for the goose hunting seasons:

Western Zone: Light and dark geese Nov. 4-Feb. 6 with a daily bag limit of 20 light geese. Bag limit of 4 dark geese, no more than 3 Canada and 1 white-fronted goose. The proposed conservation order for light geese would run Feb. 7-Mar. 25

Eastern Zone: Light geese Nov. 4-Jan. 28 with a bag limit of 20 daily. White-fronted geese Nov. 4-Jan. 14 and Canada geese Nov. 4-Jan. 28with a daily bag limit of 3 Canada geese and 2 white-fronted geese. The proposed conservation order for light geese would run Jan. 29-Mar. 25.

Here’s what’s being proposed for the sandhill crane hunting seasons:

Zone A: Nov. 4-Feb. 4 with a bag limit of three daily.

Zone B: Nov. 24-Feb. 4 with a bag limit of three daily.

Zone C: Dec. 23-Jan. 28 with a bag limit of two daily.

All proposed dates are very tentative and reflect a season structure based on the liberal package, according to Dave Morrison, TPWD waterfowl program leader. “Should another package be called for these dates will be changed drastically.”

Public comment about these proposals may be made to Dave Morrison, TPWD, 4200 Smith School Road, Austin, TX 78744 or by e-mail to dave.morrison@tpwd.texas.gov.

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