LITTLE ROCK - For the 18th consecutive year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved a 60-day hunting season for waterfowl. The vote came during the Commission's monthly meeting.
AGFC Waterfowl Program Coordinator Luke Naylor presented the Commission with the late migratory season proposals. "Habitat conditions were improved or similar to last year in many areas due to average or above-average annual precipitation," Naylor explained. "Continued wet conditions appear to be driving continued good habitat" he added.
Naylor noted that total duck population estimates of breeding waterfowl in the U.S. and Canada were the highest on record. "The total duck population estimate is 49.2 million ducks. That's an 8 percent increase from 2013 and 43 percent above the long-term average," Naylor said.
With more than 422,900 mallards harvested, Arkansas had the third highest waterfowl harvest and highest mallard harvest in the nation last season.
The second highest mallard harvest in the nation was 200,700 in Missouri. No other state's hunters in the Mississippi flyway harvested over 200,000 mallards.
2014-15 duck season dates:
Dec. 4-Dec. 23
Dec. 26-Jan. 25
Youth Hunt: Jan. 31-Feb. 1
Northwest Canada Goose Zone season
Statewide Canada Goose season
Sept. 1-15 and Nov. 13-Jan. 25
White-fronted, snow, blue and Ross's goose seasons
Nov. 13-Jan. 25
Snow, blue and Ross's goose conservation order
Oct. 11-Nov. 12, Jan. 26-30 and Feb. 2-April 25
The 2014-15 duck bag limits are six ducks consisting of no more than: four mallards (two hens), three wood ducks, two pintails, two redheads, one black duck, one canvasback, one mottled duck or three scaup.
One regulation change for the upcoming waterfowl season calls for a restriction on the closing time of certain wildlife management areas and lakes during waterfowl season.
The new regulation prohibits access on certain WMAs from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. each morning (except in designated campsites, parking areas, boat launch ramps and designated boat staging areas). In addition, no boats are allowed from 1 p.m. to 4 a.m. each day.
These restrictions are in place from the first day of the first segment of the regular duck season until the last day of the last segment of regular duck season on specific WMAs. This does not apply to the last three days of the last regular duck season and the youth waterfowl hunt when access is allowed from 4 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. daily. Exceptions to allow afternoon access (such as archery deer hunting) to specific waterbodies within WMAs are included in the new regulation.