Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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Early teal season approved

An extended special early teal season is in the offing for September as part of a package of early migratory bird hunting seasons approved last week by the Ohio Wildlife Council.

The teal season opens Sept. 2 and runs through Sept. 17 with a daily bag of four birds.

Mark Shieldcastle, wetlands project leader for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, earlier had predicted the expansion from nine days to 16 based on population of substantial numbers of blue-winged teal this year.

Bluewing numbers were estimated at 5.9 million in the annual continental breeding duck survey, a figure that is up 28 percent over 2005 and 30 percent over long-term averages.

Other early bird seasons open a day earlier, Sept. 1, including dove, special Canada goose, moorhen, and snipe. Squirrel season also opens Sept. 1.

The dove season will run through Oct. 15, break, and resume Nov. 11 through 25 with a daily bag of 15 birds. Controlled dove hunts will be offered at Fallville, Spring Valley, Rush Run, Bott, and Indian Creek state wildlife areas. Details are available by calling 1-800 WILDLIFE.

The early goose season runs through Sept. 15 with a daily bag of three generally. However, the bag will be limited to two a day in the Crane Creek/Ottawa, Killdeer Plains, and Mosquito Creek mandatory reporting zones. The Mercer goose-reporting zone will not be open during the early season.

Goose and teal hunters must have a valid hunting license plus a state wetlands habitat stamp endorsement and Harvest Information Program, or HIP, certification, which can be filed when applying for a license.

Sora rails, Virginia rails, and moorhens may be hunted through Nov. 9 with a daily bag of 25 rails and 15 moorhens. Snipe season will run through Nov. 26, break, and resume Dec. 9 through 28 with a daily bag of eight.

The woodcock hunting season is set for Oct. 14 through Nov. 26, with a daily bag of three.

Hunting hours in the foregoing seasons are sunrise to sunset, except on state wildlife areas with specially posted hours for doves.

The 2006 migratory game bird hunting seasons brochure is to be available by mid-August at license outlets, district wildlife offices, or by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE.

It has been a banner year for sandhill cranes, an endangered species in Ohio, with the production of 15 young.

That is the highest number of sandhills hatched in the state since 1900. An estimated 15 pairs of these tall wading birds nest in the state, mostly in northeast Ohio.

Cranes are graceful and seemingly tireless on six to seven-foot wingspans in high flight. But up close these big, ungainly looking, gray birds with red patches on their foreheads look primitive. They are, for sure, of ancient heritage, the oldest still-living species of bird known in the world. Fossils more than six million years old have been found in Nebraska.

Nine nests are in Wayne County and two in Holmes County, with a nest each in Ashtabula and Geauga counties, and a nest in Lorain County in north-central Ohio and Williams County in northwest Ohio.

In 1875 an estimated 12 to 15 pairs were found in the state, mainly in Fulton and Lucas counties, but they disappeared by 1880, the Ohio Division of Wildlife says. The last confirmed nest in the state, prior to 1987, was in Huron County in 1926.

The historic disappearance of cranes in Ohio reflected their status in much of North America as their numbers were decimated by unregulated hunting and loss of habitat. Their first modern appearance was in 1987 in Wayne County.

Since then one to two pairs have nested in the Killbuck and Funk Bottoms state wildlife areas. In 2000 and 2001, pairs showed up at Killdeer Plains State Wildlife Area in Wyandot County and Lake La Su An State Wildlife Area in Williams County.

The northwest region crane population may represent an expansion of Michigan crane flocks, while those in the northeast may have expanded from Ontario.

"The sandhills seem to be responding to habitat and wetlands restorations, especially on private lands, in northeast Ohio, so the restorations seem to be paying off," said Dave Sherman, a biologist at Crane Creek Wildlife Research Station in Ottawa County.

He noted that the Williams County birds are located on private land as well, produced two young this year, and have been steady, successful nesters every year but one since 2001.

Sandhills typically nest in open marshes near agricultural fields.

In related news, Ohio's trumpeter swan population, which has been under restoration since 1996, established a record 22 nests in 2006 and produced 39 young, or cygnets.

Trumpeters, all white with black bills, are the largest waterfowl in North America, attaining a wingspan of seven to eight feet.

Adult males weigh 28 to 30 pounds. Peak production so far came in 2005 with 45 cygnets.

Historically trumpeters disappeared because of unregulated hunting for meat and feathers prior to 1900.

Nests today are located in Ottawa, Lucas, Sandusky, Lorain, Wyandot, Marion, Holmes, Wayne, Trumbull and Muskingum counties.

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