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MADISON – In 2014, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan were given authority by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to implement an early teal duck hunting season, with an initial experimental period lasting three years.
USFWS will require Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan to jointly conduct and report their findings in each of the experimental period’s first three years. The first of these reports is now available, and results show that hunter harvest was focused on desired teal ducks.
“We are pleased we could provide this new duck hunting opportunity in Wisconsin in cooperation with our flyway partner states and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.’ said Tom Hauge, Wisconsin DNR wildlife bureau director.
To help evaluate compliance and duck identification, trained observers from each state observed duck flights and hunter behavior during teal hunting seasons. Within the range of an observed hunting group, the species and number of ducks in each flock and whether the ducks were shot at or hit was recorded. In total, 88 trained observers evaluated the performance of 160 hunting parties, and these observations helped generate statistically valid conclusions.
A total of 699 non-teal duck flocks came within range of hunting parties, with only 44 shot at resulting in a non-target attempt rate of roughly 6.3 percent. This was well below the threshold deemed necessary by USFWS to protect other duck species not targeted by this early season.
“The early teal season provided Wisconsin hunters with a new opportunity and our first year results give us confidence in promoting this opportunity for hunters’ again next season.” said Kent Van Horn, Wisconsin DNR migratory game bird ecologist.
Wisconsin and Michigan held early teal seasons from Sept. 1-7, while Iowa’s season was held Sept. 6-21.
Blue-winged teal are an early migrating duck, so many teal have left prior to opening day of regular duck hunting seasons. As a result, USFWS approved special early teal hunting seasons for some states in the 1960’s. Four states within the Mississippi Flyway (Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Minnesota) were excluded initially, due to concerns that hunters would shoot too many non-teal ducks.
However, recent record-high duck populations and a desire for more equitable harvest opportunity distribution led to analyses of the potential for adding early teal seasons in additional states.
After working with state agencies to evaluate harvest potential, USFWS authorized the implementation of early teal seasons on an experimental basis in Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan. Following public input processes, each state established an early teal season based on biological and social factors, with an additional focus placed upon communication and hunter education materials.
To receive email updates regarding the early teal season and other waterfowl related information, visit dnr.wi.gov and click on the email icon near the bottom of the page to subscribe for updates for DNR topics. Follow the prompts and select the “ducks” option, found under hunting.
For more information regarding the first year of the experimental three-year early teal hunting season, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “waterfowl.”