Subsistence hunting under scrutiny

March 28, 1993|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,Staff Writer

One of the factors that has an impact on game birds that nest in Canada and migrate to the areas in the United States, including Maryland, is subsistence hunting by Eskimos, Aleuts and other people native to the far north.

Subsistence hunters traditionally kill ducks, geese, swans, cranes and seabirds in northern Alaska and across upper Canada between March 10 and Sept. 1, when hunting seasons are closed to all other people by the 1916 Migratory Bird Treaty.

According to the Fish and Wildlife News, a publication of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the estimated annual subsistence take of migratory birds in Alaska during the mid-1980s was 307,000 birds.

Those birds accounted for 2.6 percent of ducks and 3 percent of geese taken in North America.

In Canada, the estimate is 350,000 ducks and 350,000 geese or 6 and 14 percent, respectively, of the total take in North America.

The 1916 treaty made exceptions for subsistence hunters, allowing them to take birds for food and clothing and also to take eggs.

Subsistence hunters were prohibited from selling meat, eggs or feathers.

With the decline in populations of migratory game birds such as geese and ducks, the USFWS is considering amendments to the treaty that would regulate subsistence hunting.

The next step is for the USFWS to publish a draft environmental assessment and accept public comment to see if a legal basis can be made for regulation of subsistence hunting during spring and summer, when the birds are on the nesting grounds.

Spotty fishing

Warm weather has arrived, but recent rains have most area rivers and streams full, fast and murky and fishing has been spotty at best.

Area reservoirs also are full and although the ice has melted, the fishing will be less than optimal for another week or so, especially with rain forecast for tomorrow and Tuesday.

One way to beat the blues would be mackerel fishing on a headboat out of Ocean City.

Keep in mind that high water levels can make water courses dangerous, and it is better to wait for the water to drop than to barge ahead.

Trout areas open

Put-and-take trout fishing areas that opened yesterday after being closed for stocking include those in the following counties:

* Baltimore: Little Falls, Gunpowder Falls (upper and lower), Little Gunpowder Falls and Patapsco River (Avalon).

* Carroll: Beaver Run, Piney Run and Patapsco River (Route 32).

* Frederick: Fishing Creek, Little Hunting Creek, Owens Creek, Friends Creek and Middle Creek.

* Howard-Montgomery: Patuxent River (Laurel) and Great Seneca Creek.

* Harford: Deer Creek.

+ * Anne Arundel: Severn Run.

Kill rates of migratory birds

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided these kill rates for migratory birds in the United States and Canada for 1990:

Species .. .. U.S. .. .. .. Canada

Ducks .. .. ..6,166,000 .. 1,988,000

Geese .. .. ..1,840,000 .. 734,000

Swans .. .. .. .. 5,000 .. .. .. ..0

Sandhill .. .. 19,000 .. .. .. 5,000

cranes

Coots .. .. .. 111,000 .. .. ..9,000

Rails .. .. .. .59,000 .. .. .. .. 0

Gallinules .. ..41,000 .. .. .. .. 0

Woodcock .. 1,500,000 .. .. 100,000

Snipe .. .. 830,000 .. .. .. 40,000

Doves .. .. 45,000,000.. .. .. 1,000

Pigeons.. .. .. 74,000 .. .. .. .. O

Totals .. .. 55,645,000 .. 2,877,000

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