2017 waterfowl regulations set

North Dakota’s 2017 waterfowl season is set, with the season framework similar to last year.

Noteworthy changes include the daily limit on pintails is reduced from two to one, and the west boundary of the Missouri River Canada Goose Zone, north of N.D. Highway 200, is extended to state Highway 8.

Opening day for North Dakota residents is Sept. 23 for ducks, geese, coots and mergansers. Nonresidents may begin hunting waterfowl in North Dakota on Sept. 30. The season for swans opens Sept. 30 for residents and nonresidents.

Hunters may take six ducks per day with the following restrictions: five mallards of which two may be hens, three wood ducks, three scaup, two redheads, two canvasbacks and one pintail. Similar to last year, hunters can take an additional two blue-winged teal from Sept. 23 through Oct. 8. The daily limit of five mergansers may include no more than two hooded mergansers. For ducks and mergansers, the possession limit is three times the daily limit.

Hunting Workshop slated for Aug. 18

A free Youth Waterfowl Hunting Workshop, sponsored by Ducks Unlimited and North Dakota Game and Fish Department, runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 18, with shooting sessions from 1:30 to 3 p.m. and 3 to 5 p.m.

The workshop will be held at the Ducks Unlimited office at 2525 River Road in Bismarck. Shooting sessions will be at Capital City Sporting Clays Range at 12951 71st Ave. N.E., Bismarck.

For kids 16 and younger, activities include duck identification and hunting regulations, decoy spreads, hunting gear, basic firearm safety, duck calling and retriever training. The first 20 participants, ages 9 to 16, to register will be able to participate in one of the shooting training sessions at Capital City Sporting Clays Range in the afternoon. The shooting training will include safe gun handling tips. A parent or guardian must accompany children at the shooting range.

Lunch will be served free of charge. Registration is required by calling 701-202-8896 and space is limited.

Duck brood numbers down slightly 

State Game and Fish Department biologists expect a fall duck flight from North Dakota that is down 8 percent from last year, based on observations from the annual mid-July waterfowl production survey.

This year’s brood index came in at 3.68 broods per square mile, down 5 percent from last year. The statewide average since the survey began in 1955 is 2.59 broods per square mile. Overall brood size was up 8 percent from last year.

Migratory game bird management supervisor Mike Szymanski said production was better in the northern tier of the state, with northernmost routes experiencing increased counts over last year.

Observers also count water areas during the summer survey, and this year’s water index was 38 percent lower than last year. Due to drought conditions and sparse precipitation since snowmelt, Szymanski said summer wetland conditions are declining.

“It was already starting to dry up when we did our spring survey, and the pattern continued,” Szymanski said. “It definitely affected how breeding pairs settled in the state."

Game and Fish biologists will conduct a separate survey in September to assess wetland conditions heading into the waterfowl hunting seasons.