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Published: Tuesday, 7/26/2011

Ohio Division of Wildlife asking for feedback from waterfowlers

If you hunt ducks or geese in the Buckeye State, the Ohio Division of Wildlife wants to know.

The division is asking Ohio waterfowl hunters for comment on the timing of the fall waterfowl hunting season in the portion of Ohio where they prefer to hunt, this via an on-line survey.

The rules-making Ohio Wildlife Council will establish season dates and other regulations in late August after federal guidelines are established for the upcoming waterfowl season, and biologists want to match as closely as possible season opportunities with hunter preferences. The survey is available at wildohio.com until Aug. 15. A participating hunter will need to have his or her customer identification number available when taking the survey. The number is found on all Ohio hunting and fishing licenses.

The state's waterfowlers provided input in March on hunting-zone boundaries, and now comment is sought on the timing of hunting season dates.

In related news, several drawings are scheduled for controlled waterfowl hunts, some of which are set for early September.

A drawing for hunting slots on opening day of early teal season at Pickerel Creek State Wildlife Area on Sandusky Bay will be done by postcard entries. Pending the season dates, if the second hunt day is on Labor Day, applicants will be drawn for that day also. The morning drawing is open to adults and youth. The afternoon drawing on opening day is reserved for youth only.

Hunters must send a four-by-six-inch post card to the Wildlife District Two, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay, Ohio 45840. Entries for teal and early Canada goose drawings must have entries postmarked by Aug. 11. Only one entry is allowed per hunter, including name, address, and phone number. Post cards need to be labeled at the top for the particular hunt in which the hunter is applying, that is, adult teal or youth teal.

Another drawing will be for opening day of the general waterfowl season in October at Pickerel Creek. The morning drawing is open to adults and youth. The afternoon drawing on opening day is reserved for youth only. Hunters again must send a four-by-six post card to the Wildlife District Two, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay, Ohio 45840. Entries for the opening day general waterfowl hunt must be postmarked by Sept. 15. Again, only one entry is allowed per hunter, with name, address, and phone number. Label the entry accordingly, that is, adult waterfowl or youth waterfowl.

A special drawing is set for Pipe Creek State Wildlife Area and East Sandusky Bay Metropark on Aug. 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Osborn Park in Huron, for permits to hunt the area during the special teal/early goose, and the regular waterfowl seasons. Registration will be from 5 to 6:20 p.m. Osborn Park is located at 3910 Perkins Ave., Huron.

A special drawing for teal and early goose hunting at Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area is set for Aug. 20 at 2 p.m. at the Magee Marsh, 13229 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor. Registration will be from noon to 1:45 p.m.

For other details on any of the drawings, call Bob Ford, assistant wildlife management supervisor for District 2, 419-429-8361.

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Waterfowl hunters harvested more than 2.7 million ducks in Louisiana during the 2010-11 waterfowl season, more than any other state, according to the recently released annual U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's migratory bird hunting activity and harvest report.

"More ducks were harvested in Louisiana last season than in the entire Atlantic or Central Flyways," said Bob Dew, manager of conservation programs for Ducks Unlimited. Louisiana's harvest accounts for 18 percent of the United States harvest, following by Arkansas with a harvest of 1.4 million ducks. Factoring in hunter numbers, Louisiana's harvest equated to 30.6 ducks harvested per hunter for the season.

DU reminds waterfowlers that a multitude of factors influence migration patterns as well as individual hunting success. Weather patterns are often the greatest driving force for waterfowl, and last winter's weather patterns pushed waterfowl south with hard freezes and snow cover to the north. Local habitat conditions, particularly local rainfall patterns that influence habitat availability, also play a critical role in hunter success. These factors are critical to hunting success in Ohio, at the opposite end of the Mississippi Flyway from Louisiana and Arkansas

Last fall and winter there were significant efforts related to the Gulf of Mexico's Deepwater Horizon disaster to provide habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds in Louisiana. The effort resulted in significant habitat in southwest Louisiana throughout fall and winter because of the migratory bird habitat initiative, while southeast Louisiana marshes were under the influence of a high river with open freshwater diversions.

Last year's breeding populations were above long term averages for most species, so waterfowl production should have been very good. Add to that late fall and winter weather patterns that pushed ducks south where they were greeted by locally excellent habitat conditions and the potential for a big season was high.

The coming waterfowl season is shaping up to be promising as well, said DU. The breeding ground population surveys and wetland pond counts showed great breeding pair numbers and habitat conditions.

Contact Steve Pollick at: spollick@theblade.com or 419-724-6068.



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