DNR approves future hunting dates, quotas

ON THE OUTDOORS

August 11, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

The Department of Natural Resources has approved dates and bag limits for its 1996-97 and 1997-98 hunting seasons, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has completed its proposals for the coming waterfowl seasons -- including a continuation of the moratorium on the hunting of migratory Canada geese in the Atlantic Flyway.

The most significant change in DNR's dates and bag limits is a change in the dates for the early muzzleloader season for deer. The opener of the three-day season would be moved up to Oct. 17 this year and would remain the third Thursday in October in ensuing seasons.

DNR's dates and bag limits, which were explained to the public at four open meetings around the state before final adjustments, have been submitted for regulatory adoption.

The regulations now will change only every two years, unless special circumstances require adjustments within that term.

The USFWS, which sets the frameworks within which individual states shape their waterfowl and migratory bird seasons, is proposing a duck season in the Atlantic Flyway of not more than 50 days between Oct. 1 and Jan. 20. The bag limit would be five.

Longer seasons and larger bag limits are the result of three successive good breeding years, said John Rogers, acting director of the USFWS. Across the four major flyways, some 83 million ducks should migrate south this year, compared with about 57 million annually in the late 1980s.

"Keeping in mind that these are good times, with abundant water on the prairies, we also need to recognize there will be drier years sometime in the future," said Rogers. "Therefore, we must continue our efforts to conserve and restore wetland habitat through such programs as the North American Waterfowl Management Plan."

Maryland's season for resident Canada geese will run Sept. 3-14 in all or parts of 15 counties and Sept. 3-25 in all or parts of nine counties. The resident season will be closed in Kent and Queen Anne's counties.

"The season dates are set to avoid migrant Canada geese, which start to arrive on Maryland's Eastern Shore from their Quebec breeding grounds in late September," said Joshua Sandt, director of DNR's Wildlife and Heritage Division.

"Very few migrant Canada geese occur in the western part of the state, so extending the closing date in this area will not affect the migrant population."

The long September season will be in effect in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett, Montgomery and Washington counties and portions of Baltimore, Howard and Prince George's counties west of I-95.

"Along with other states in the flyway, we are seeking ways to harvest resident Canada geese without affecting the migrant Canada goose population," said DNR Secretary John R. Griffin.

DNR estimates the resident population is between 40,000 and 50,000 birds, and as the population has increased, the incidents of crop or property damage have increased.

This year, DNR proposes to increase the daily limit on resident Canada geese to five per day, which would be in line with most other special hunts in the flyway.

Under DNR's regulations, the following changes are significant:

* Hunters and trappers no longer will be required to wear their hunting licenses on an outer garment, but still must have their licenses with them while afield.

* The fall turkey season, which opens Nov. 4 and closes Nov. 9 in Allegany and Garrett counties and that portion of Washington County west of I-81, could be extended in years when there are high turkey populations.

* Deer hunters using bows in Montgomery County will be allowed an additional antlerless deer above the regular statewide bow limit.

* In Frederick County Zone 2, antlerless deer may be taken through the entire two-week firearms season. In the portion of Frederick County south of I-70, breech-loading rifles will not be allowed for deer hunting.

* A two-day firearms season for deer will be held Jan. 10-11 in counties that require additional hunting days to meet DNR's deer management program goals.

Selected dates and bag limits

The Department of Natural Resources has selected the following dates and bag limits for the 1996-97 hunting seasons in Maryland. Migratory bird and waterfowl seasons still are to be determined.

Deer seasons

Bow season

Species

White-tailed

Dates

Sept. 14-Oct. 16

Oct. 21-Nov. 29

Dec. 16-20

Jan. 6-31

Areas

All counties

Bag limit

1 antlered or antlerless

Additional white-tailed

Dates

Sept. 14-Oct. 16

Oct. 21-29

Dec. 16-20

Jan. 6-31

Areas

Somerset, Wicomico, Worcester and Montgomery counties

Bag limit

1 antlerless

Notes: Dates for sika deer are the same as for white-tail deer. Regular-season limit of two in Dorchester County. Bonus deer stamps entitle hunters to one extra antlered or antlerless whitetail deer in all counties. Only one deer per day may be taken in Allegany, Carroll, Frederick, Garrett and Washington counties.

Firearms season

White-tailed

Antlered or antlerless

Dates

Nov. 30-Dec. 14

Areas

All counties except Allegany, Carroll, Frederick (Zone 1), Garrett, Washington.

Limit

1

Antlered only

Dates

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