Waterfowl hunters will have 107 days to be in the field after the state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the schedule for the 2013-14 hunting season.
The season will open with a special youth hunting weekend set to take place Sept. 21-22. The special hunt is open only to hunters 15 and younger. He or she must be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years old who is not hunting.
The general duck season runs Oct. 12-16 and then Oct. 19-Jan. 26. The goose hunting seasons will vary by goose management areas. Details for each area were not available at deadline, but state staffers recommended season dates and limits similar to last year.
The commission’s decision follows the season framework approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The federal agency recommended 107-day season for the Pacific Flyway, which includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and portions of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, and Wyoming.
The western duck season is the longest. The service framework was 60 days in the Atlantic and Mississippi flyways and 74 days in the Central Flyway, with an additional 23 days in the High Plains areas.
The agency recommended a 100-day goose hunting season for the flyway.
State Wildlife Program staff members told commissioners that population surveys in the Pacific Flyway show duck populations are near long-term averages, while goose populations are generally at or above management goals.
In the traditional survey areas, which includes the north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada and Alaska, the Fish and Wildlife Service estimates the 2013 total duck population is 45.6 million birds, down 6 percent from last year’s estimate of 48.6 million. The decline is not a surprise since 2012 was a record breeding year for North American ducks, according to the service’s survey that year. Still, the 2013 estimate is 33 percent above the long-term average (1955-2012).Staff report