By Ronnie Weston| September 2, 2014 at 2:30 PM CDT - Updated July 21 at 3:18 AM
LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – For the 18th consecutive year, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved a 60-day hunting season for waterfowl. The vote came last week 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.
In other AGFC business today, the commission:
• Approved revised policies and procedures for the agency's Conservation License Plate Program.
• Granted a surplus vehicle to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. • Granted a Glock pistol to retiring wildlife officer Oscar Gerard Jr.
• Approved the 2015 fishing regulations.
• Approved a $24,000 budget increase to pave a portion of the Spring River Dam 3 Access road.
• Approved a $50,000 budget increase to pave the Hind's Bluff Access road on the Little Missouri River in Pike County.
• Accepted a donation from Southwestern Energy, Inc. of $700,000 and 20,000 feet of irrigation pipe. The money and pipe will be used for completion of irrigation projects on Ed Gordon Point Remove Wildlife Management Area, as well as other WMAs.
• Approved a budget increase of $375,500 from unobligated federal Wildlife Restoration grant funds to support a multi-year No-Jake Harvest Research Project and a budget increase of $44,200 for approved National Wild Turkey Federation Superfund projects to support turkey habitat projects.
• Honored 32 employees for their service to the AGFC. The group had a total of 385 years of experience with the agency.
• Dedicated an area in the AGFC Little Rock central office in memory of fallen wildlife officers Monty Carmikle and Joel Campora.