Outdoor Notes


Sunday, July 11, 2004

Mixed spring habitat conditions observed in spring surveys in Wisconsin are making it difficult to make predictions for the fall waterfowl season.

“There are three primary sources of information on yearly waterfowl breeding conditions, which together determine the fall season structure,” said Kent Van Horn, Department of Natural Resources migratory waterfowl biologist. “We’ve completed the annual Wisconsin breeding waterfowl survey and a cooperative survey of Canada geese organized by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.”

Van Horn said a more definitive prediction will come when the United States Fish and Wildlife Service releases its breeding waterfowl service in the next few weeks. Preliminary observations from the USFWS surveys show some important breeding areas were dry while others have had rain. In many areas, cooler than normal spring temperatures led to later than normal migration.

At the time of the survey in early May, most of Wisconsin was relatively dry. Since mid-May conditions have reversed and it’s been very wet across the state. The impact of these conditions on waterfowl production is unclear. While increased rainfall has improved brood habitat it may have been severe and early enough in some areas to flood out nests for some ducks. Mallards, the most common duck, often re-nest after an initial failure reducing the impact of initial nest loss.

In this year’s survey biologists saw many ducks in groups suggesting the survey might have been a little early and consequently the numbers included some ducks in migration, especially blue-winged teal. The overall duck population estimate was 651,000, which is up 15% from 2003 and 54% above the long-term average based on 2004’s revised analysis.

Canada Geese: The information on breeding Canada geese in 2004 indicates a poor production year and hunters can expect a lower harvest quota than the high quota in 2003, VanHorn said. Actual Canada goose bag limits and seasons will not be available until late July or early August.

The breeding survey of MVP Canada geese calculated 276,344 pairs. The breeding survey showed a 23% decrease from 2003 numbers and the second lowest breeding population since the survey was started in 1989.

Meeting time: The Wisconsin Conservation Congress Migratory Committee will convene at 7 p.m. July 30 at the Comfort Suites Foxfire in Waupaca. The purpose of this meeting is to review proposed waterfowl regulations. For more information, contact AnnMarie Kutzke at (608) 266-2952.

More meetings: The Department of Natural Resources will hold a meeting following the Mississippi Flyway Council meeting at which representatives of state agencies within the flyway meet to discuss waterfowl season dates and bag limits. DNR staff will present information on proposed 2004 waterfowl season framework discussed at the flyway council. The meeting will be from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 31 at the Comfort Suites Foxfire, 205 Foxfire Drive in Waupaca. Meanwhile, the DNR will hold public hearings Aug. 2-5 on revisions to regulations relating to the 2004 migratory game bird season.

The hearings will be held:

— Aug. 2, La Crosse — Basement Auditorium, Administrative Center, 400 4th St. North.

— Aug. 3, Spooner — University of Wisconsin Experimental Farm, W6646 Hwy. 70.

— Aug. 4, Green Bay — Room 310, Green Bay City Hall, 100 N. Jefferson St.

— Aug. 5, Pewaukee — Comfort Suites, N14 W24121 Tower Place (Hwy. J and I-94).

For more information, contact Kent Van Horn at (608) 266-8841.

Musky open: The Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center along with the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin will host the 19th annual National Championship Musky Open Tournament from Aug. 20- 22. Tournament headquarters are at the Vilas County Fairgrounds on Hwy 70 West, just blocks from downtown Eagle River. The tournament is entirely catch and release. the entry fee is $55 before Aug. 1 and $55 afterward. For information, call (800) 359-6315.

Information for this column should be sent to Outdoor Notes, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports, P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee, Wis. 53201-0371 at least one week before publication. Faxes can be sent to (414) 224-2049. Send pictures and stories for Thursday’s Big Fish and Game Department to Big Fish, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sports, P.O. Box 371, Milwaukee, Wis. 53201-0371.

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