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WATERFOWL HUNTING SEASON THIS FALL SIMILAR TO LAST YEAR

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing hunting regulations for the
upcoming 2004-2005 waterfowl season similar to those set last year. The
proposal again contains restrictions on harvest of northern pintail and
canvasbacks because of continuing concerns about population status.

Under the Service's late-season frameworks proposal, hunting season lengths
will be 60 days in both the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways, 74 days in
the Central Flyway, and 107 days in the Pacific Flyway.

"While breeding habitat conditions in some of our survey areas are not as
good as we have seen in recent years, overall the habitat and populations
of key waterfowl species are sufficient to justify the hunting opportunity
these regulations afford," said Service Director Steve Williams. "All
flyway councils joined the Service in supporting these regulations."

Estimates of pintail and canvasback numbers were similar to last year and
the Service will continue last year's restriction. Seasons for pintails
and canvasbacks will be 60 days in the Pacific Flyway, 39 days in the
Central Flyway, and 30 days in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways.

Breeding populations of scaup remain well below their long-term average,
and as a result the Service is proposing to maintain restrictions
implemented in 1999 that reduced the bag limit from six (seven in the
Pacific Flyway) to three (four in the Pacific Flyway) per day. Restrictions
on the harvest of black ducks in the Atlantic and Mississippi Flyways that
have been in place for a number of years will continue this year.

This proposal will appear in the Federal Register for public comment and on
<http://migratorybirds.fws.gov> soon.

Highlights of the proposed late-season frameworks follow.

Atlantic Flyway: Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West
Virginia

Ducks: A hunting season of not more than 60 days (30 days each for
pintails and canvasbacks) between September 23, 2004, and January 30, 2005.
The proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four
mallards (two hens), two wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, one black
duck, one pintail, one mottled duck, one fulvous whistling duck, one
canvasback, and four scoters. The proposed daily bag limit of mergansers is
five, only one of which may be a hooded merganser. The season on harlequin
ducks is closed.

Geese: For light geese, states may select a 107-day season between October
1, 2003, and March 10, 2004, with a daily bag limit of 15 geese and no
possession limit. For Atlantic Population Canada geese, the season this
year will allow portions of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New
Jersey, Vermont and New York to hold a 45-day season between the October
25, 2003, and January 31, 2004 with a three-bird daily bag limit. Delaware,
Maryland and Virginia will be allowed to hold a 45-day season in Atlantic
Population areas between November 15, 2003 and January 31, 2004, with a
one-bird daily bag limit, and two-bird bag limit for the last 20 days. In
Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Long
Island, New York, a 45-day season on North Atlantic Population Canada geese
is proposed between October 1, 2003, and January 31, 2004, with a two-bird
daily bag limit. Special or experimental seasons and regular seasons to
harvest resident and other populations of migratory Canada geese are
authorized in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New
Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South
Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia. For Atlantic brant, the season
length may be 60 days with a daily bag limit of three.

Mississippi Flyway: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky,
Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and
Wisconsin

Ducks: A hunting season of not more than 60 days (30 days each for pintails
and canvasbacks) between September 23, 2004, and January 30, 2005. The
proposed daily bag limit is six and may include no more than four mallards
(two hens), three mottled ducks, three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads,
one black duck, one pintail, and one canvasback. The proposed daily bag
limit of mergansers is five, only one of which may be a hooded merganser.

Geese: Generally, seasons for Canada geese may be held between September
23, 2004, and January 31, 2005, and vary in length, among States and areas,
with daily bag limits varying from one to three. States may select seasons
for light geese not to exceed 107 days with 20 geese daily between
September 23, 2004, and March 10, 2005; for white-fronted geese not to
exceed 86 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 107 days with a one-bird
daily bag limit between September 23, 2004, and February 13, 2005; and for
brant not to exceed 70 days with a two-bird daily bag limit or 107 days
with a one-bird daily bag limit between September 23, 2004, and January 31,
2005. There is no possession limit for light geese.

Central Flyway: Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota,
Texas, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming

Ducks: Duck seasons may be held between September 23, 2004, and January 30,
2005. In the High Plains Mallard Management Unit (roughly west of the
100th Meridian), a 97-day season (39 days each for canvasbacks and
pintails) is proposed. The last 23 days may start no earlier than December
11, 2004. A 74-day season (39 days each for canvasbacks and pintails) is
proposed for the remainder of the Central Flyway. The proposed daily bag
limit is six and may include no more than five mallards (two hens), two
redheads, three scaup, two wood ducks, one mottled duck, one pintail, and
one canvasback.

Geese: States may select seasons between September 23, 2004 and February
13, 2005 for dark geese and between September 23, 2004 and March 10, 2005
for light geese. In the East Tier, states may select a 95-day season for
Canada geese, with a daily bag limit of three. In the Eastern Goose Zone of
Texas, the State may select an alternative 107-day season with a daily bag
limit of one. For white-fronted geese, states may select either an 86-day
season with a daily bag limit of 2 birds or a 107-day season with a daily
bag limit of one bird. In the West Tier, states may select a 107-day
dark-goose season with a daily bag limit of five birds. In the Western
Goose Zone of Texas, the State may select a 95-day season with a daily bag
limit of three dark geese (including no more than one white-fronted goose).
Colorado, may select a 95-day season with an aggregate bag limit of three.
For light geese, all states may select a 107-day season with a daily bag
limit of 20 and no possession limit.

Pacific Flyway: Arizona, California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah,
Washington, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming

Ducks: A 107-day season between September 23, 2004, and January 30, 2005.
The proposed daily bag limit is seven ducks, including no more than two
mallard hens,two redheads, four scaup, one pintail, and one canvasback.
Canvasbacks and pintails will be limited to one bird daily and open for
only a 60-day period of the regular duck season.

Geese: A 107-day season is proposed in most parts of the Flyway between
October 2, 2004, and January 30, 2005. Bag limits generally are three light
geese and four dark geese. Other restrictions vary by State and zone. For
brant, the season lengths are 16 days in Oregon and Washington and 30 days
in California, with a two-bird daily limit. Washington may split its brant
season into 2 segments. Goose seasons and bag limits were increased in two
of California's waterfowl zones in response to increasing populations of
geese and to help address depredation concerns that are resulting from
these increasing numbers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency
responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and
plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American
people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge
System, which encompasses 544 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small
wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national
fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services
field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the
Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores
nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat
such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments
with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance
program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes
on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
visit our home page at <http://www.fws.gov>.
 
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