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DUCK SEASON COULD BE BEST IN DECADES.

Byline: Rochelle Kaplan Daily News Staff Writer

An estimated 100 million waterfowl will migrate to southern wintering areas this year, setting up what could be the best California hunting season in 25 years.

``The fall flight index is 16 percent higher than last year's index,'' said John Rogers, acting Fish and Wildlife Service director, ``and certainly one of the highest we've seen since breeding-duck surveys were started in the 1950s.''

The numbers include 83 million ducks in the surveyed areas of the United States and Canada. Last year's count was 77 million.

Hunters in most parts of the state are awaiting the Oct. 19 waterfowl season opener. The Northeastern Zone opens Saturday.

The Department of Fish and Game expects a record number of applications because of the bag-limit increase from six to seven ducks - the highest daily limit since 1983. Requests for any hunts on state-operated wildlife areas must be received at the License and Revenue Branch at least 17 days before the specified date of the hunt, which is seven days earlier than last year. (Therefore, applications for the Oct. 19 opener must have reached the branch by Wednesday.)

``This year we anticipate well over 300,000 applications to hunt state-operated wildlife areas,'' said Mike Hill, state waterfowl drawing coordinator.

Last year, applications reached more than 278,000, even though mild weather kept waterfowl in Oregon and Washington for a longer time.

Of the 10 most predominant species of ducks, including mallards, green-winged teals, shovelers and gadwalls, seven are enjoying increased populations while three are ``just hanging around,'' according to DFG senior biologist and waterfowl specialist Dan Yparraguirre.

``In 40 years, we never counted as many ducks as we have this year,'' Yparraguirre said. ``The pintail, however, is still rebounding. Their numbers are still quite low.

``But hunters should remember that a successful hunt is not just based on the birds. Hunting weather is required, too. You need storms and wind to make it a successful hunt.''

Waterfowl season hunting regulations DUCKS (Including mergansers)

Hunting season: Oct. 19 to Jan. 19 for Southern California, Southern San Joaquin Valley and balance of the state.

Limits: Bag and possession limit: Seven per day; 14 in possession. Daily bag-limit makeup: Up to seven mallards but not more than one female, two pintails, one canvasback and two redheads of either sex.

Comments: The fall flight forecast looks quite bright for seven of the 10 ``big'' species of duck. Numbers haven't been this high in 40 years. Only the pintail hasn't been rebounding well, as its numbers continue to be low.

GEESE (all game species)

Hunting season: Oct. 19 to Jan. 19 for Southern California.

Limits: Bag limit and makeup: Five per day; three may be white geese and two may be dark geese, but only one of those may be a cackling goose. Possession limit and makeup: Eight; six may be white geese and two may be dark geese.

Comments: The Great Basin Canada goose is the species primarily found in the Southland, where populations are generally not threatened and all species of game geese are hunted. Los Angeles and Orange counties have very little habitat that is goose friendly. Imperial County is a good spot, as well as parts of the areas around the cities of Riverside, Chino and San Diego.

GEESE(other than white-fronted and cackling geese)

Hunting Season: Nov. 2 to Jan. 19 for Southern San Joaquin Valley and the balance of the state.

Limits: Bag limit and makeup: Three per day; all three may be white geese, but only one may be dark - except two may be taken if they are both Canada geese. Possession limit: Three.

Comments: The take in these regions is greater than in Southern California because overall numbers are higher. Colusa County is where most of the geese are harvested.

GEESE (white-fronted and cackling geese)

Hunting season: Nov. 2 to Jan. 5 for Southern San Joaquin Valley and the balance of the state.

Limits: Bag limit and makeup: Three per day; all three may be white geese, but only one may be dark - except two may be taken if they are both Canada geese. Possession limit: Three.

Comments: There are about 300,000 white-fronted geese in the state - the objective of wildlife managers - and most are in the Sacramento Valley. Some biologists feel that a shortened season will better control the population.

COMMON SNIPE

Hunting season: Statewide, Saturday through Jan. 19.

Limits: Eight per day; 16 in possession.

Comments: A real bird, not the fictional one referred to in pranks using flashlights and burlap bags. One of the most challenging game birds, it prefers marshes, is small and is a very rapid, irregular flyer. Not a waterfowl, it is the only remaining shorebird legal to hunt. Unlike the similar dowitcher, which is illegal to hunt, the migratory bird does not flock, makes a buzzing sound when it flies and has no white on its back.

AMERICAN COOT AND COMMON MOORHEN

Hunting season: Statewide, concurrent with duck season and during the period between segments of split duck seasons.

Limits: Bag limit: 25 per day; 25 in possession; either all of one species or a mixture of these species.

Comments: Rarely hunted. Migratory rails, not waterfowl, they don't decoy well. The gizzard on coot - called the clown in the marsh, because it tumbles when landing - is its best-eating part; the moorhen looks like a small, brown coot.

BLACK BRANT

Hunting season: Statewide, Nov. 1-30.

Limits: Bag limit: Two per day; four in possession.

Comments: Despite its low population, this migratory seabird is hunted only when it is least susceptible. They are seen mostly in February, when they are returning from their winter home in Mexico to Alaska. But the hunting season is November, when a few birds mistake the San Diego region for south of the border on their fall flight. Often shot from boats.

Notes: Hunting of Aleutian geese is prohibited.

For further information, consult the Department of Fish and Game waterfowl hunting regulations or call the DFG regional office in Long Beach at (310) 590-5126.

Comments provided by DFG senior wildlife biologists Dan Yparraguirre and John Massie. Artwork courtesy of DFG.

CAPTION(S):

Photo, Chart

Photo: (color) Duck-hunting season opens Oct. 19 for most of the state. Experts expect a productive season.

Photo courtesy of Department of Fish and Game

Chart: WATERFOWL SEASON HUNTING REGULATIONS (see text)
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Statistical Data Included
Date:Oct 3, 1996
Words:1062
Previous Article:RAE LAKES: BASIN WILDLY BEAUTIFUL.
Next Article:OUTPOST.


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