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Forum News Service, Published August 10 2013

Minnesota waterfowl hunting similar to last year’s

Minnesota’s waterfowl hunters will see a season very similar to last year’s, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday.

The season will open a half-hour before sunrise Sept. 21 and continue for 60 days under a north, central and southern zone structure with different season dates for each zone.

The season structure is the same as last year’s. The opener is one day earlier than last year and the earliest since 1945, DNR officials said.

The daily bag limit remains at six ducks per day. The mallard bag limit remains at four per day, including two hen mallards. The wood duck bag limit will remain at three per day. The only bag limit changes from last year are the daily limit for scaup, which drops from four to three per day, and the canvasback limit, which increases from one to two per day.

Possession limits have been increased this year, from twice the daily bag limit to three times the daily bag limit for all migratory birds.

The North Duck Zone (north of Minnesota Highway 210) season will run from Sept. 21 through Nov. 19. Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Sept. 7.

Mallard abundance from a continental spring survey, including Minnesota, is used to determine overall duck season length, DNR officials said.

This year’s continental estimate was 10.4 million mallards, which was similar to last year’s estimate of 10.6 million mallards and 36 percent above the long-term average.

Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, said breeding duck numbers were good for mallards and all other duck species this year, and wetland conditions in the major waterfowl breeding areas were also favorable.

“In Minnesota, the population index of resident breeding mallards was also good,” Cordts said, “with an estimated 293,000 mallards in our survey area. That’s 30 percent above the long-term average.”

Duck harvest in Minnesota last fall was up 19 percent from 2011, from 621,000 ducks in 2011 to 749,000 ducks in 2012.

Most of the increase was due to increased harvest of blue-winged teal and wood ducks.

The early September Canada goose season will open statewide Sept. 1 and run through Sept. 20. Bag limits for Canada geese are 10 per day in the Intensive Harvest Zone and five per day in the remainder of the state.

Minnesota’s regular goose season will open in conjunction with the duck season statewide on Sept. 21, with a bag limit of three Canada geese per day the entire season.

In the North Duck zone, goose season will run from Sept. 21 through Dec.16.

The sandhill crane season will run from Sept. 14 through Oct. 20 in the Northwest Goose and Sandhill Crane Zone only.