Hi CT migratory bird hunter,
Attached you will find the proposed 2017-18 hunting season frameworks for migratory game birds in CT. The season selections need to be provided to the USFWS by the middle of April. Thus, our annual regulations meeting will March 31, 2017 at our Marine Headquarters in Old Lyme. Obviously, as always, we will take comments via email and phone too.
One issue I will touch on is that of Sunday hunting. Any Sunday hunting bill that allows hunting of migratory game birds takes away our compensatory days. I mention this because the current bill is for Sunday hunting on private land only. This type of regulation will negatively affect every single hunter that hunts on public land (coast, rivers, WMA's, SF's, etc). We will effectively lose 9-10 days of waterfowl hunting. Sunday hunting bills must include all lands in the state, or exclude migratory game birds or else most of us lose opportunity.
We will also be closing, by regulation, three more areas to hunting this year. This is because we continue to have people hunting in areas that are just too tight due to downrange shooting distances and narrow shooting angles. Just because birds are there doesn't mean you can nor should hunt there. As this behavior continues we continue to unnecessarily alienate ourselves from the rest of the citizens of our state.
There are some issues that are facing us, some that we have been talking about for some time, others that are new:
1. Mallard populations in Eastern North America, the birds that we set our general duck season on, continue to decline. Since the advent of 60 day duck seasons in 1996 we have seen a 29% decline in mallards in the Northeast Plot Survey area (Virginia to New Hampshire) and a 19% decline in the entirety of the eastern part of the Continent. This is troubling as most other species except for sea ducks are doing reasonably well, and as mallards continue to decline our hunting opportunity may decline. The first attempt at arresting the current population trend will more than likely be a bag limit reduction. Not this year, but likely soon.
2. There will be a change in the way you are able to report bands. The 1-800 call center is going to close in June 2017. This is a funding issue with the Federal Government. This is a big issue!! You will now only be able to report bands on the www.reportbands.gov
<http://www.reportbands.gov/> website. They are developing an app for mobile devices. Please continue to report your bands!!!
3. We will be moving to a 2-bird bag on black ducks. This is the first regulation change in a liberal direction in over 30 years. There is new evidence that harvest mortality may be much more compensatory than we had previously estimated. There is a whole generation of hunters who have never seen this regulation.
4. We always hear comments about when the seasons open. Our surveys indicate that equal numbers of hunters prefer weekend to weekday openers. So we will try and compromise, by opening the early split on a Saturday and the late split during the week, on a Friday. Opening on a Friday allows us to go a couple more days later into January at least inland. If Wed is preferred, we can do that and move the ending date two days eariier.
The only comments we have received prior to sending out these preliminary seasons are to put more AP Goose days into November, taking them from January and at the same time, cover up more of the duck season in western CT with AP goose days.
The pamphlet should be out by July. The new regulatory cycle now allows us to get the pamphlet printed and distributed well in advance of the coming season.
Please have a fun and safe hunting season.
Min T. Huang, Migratory Bird Program Leader CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
391 RT 32
N. Franklin CT 06254