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Changing rules for bagging waterfowl

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news Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

PIERRE -- Waterfowl hunters would get bigger bag limits for ducks and geese in South Dakota this fall under the seasons proposed by the state Game, Fish and Parks Commission.

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South Dakota would need federal agreement to change the possession limits for ducks and geese from twice to three times the daily limits.

The commission also wants to increase the daily limit for Canada geese from the current three birds to five and increase the daily limit for white-fronted geese from the current one to two. The scaup daily limit would be raised from the present four to six.

A public hearing will be held Aug. 1 in Watertown as part of the commission's next meeting.

The number of resident hunters for Canada geese was up more than 300 in 2012 to 13,715, which was the highest in at least five years, while nonresident hunters for Canada geese were relatively stable at 2,277.

Only about one-third of waterfowl hunters turned out for the light-geese fall season, and relatively few reported pursuing white-fronted geese.

The migration of white-fronted geese tends to peak at about Thanksgiving or the week after. Consequently the commission, in an attempt to get federal support for doubling the bag limit to two white-fronts, is proposing reducing the season length to 72 days from the present 86.

Closing the light-front season earlier on Dec. 8 wouldn't reduce opportunity in most instances, commissioner John Cooper of Pierre said.

Duck hunters dipped in 2012. Residents numbered 12,797 and nonresidents 3,961, the lowest for both in at least five years. They reported taking 233,608 ducks. That was down about 31,000 from 2011.

"But harvest overall was still very good," said Tom Kirschenmann, director of land resources for the state Division of Wildlife. "The last couple of years, waterfowl numbers have been very strong."

At A Glance

The proposed 2013 season dates for the main seasons for duck and geese hunting this fall and winter are:

Ducks

High Plains Unit -- Oct. 12 through Jan. 16.

Low Plains North and Low Plains Middle -- Sept. 28 through Dec. 10.

Low Plains South -- Oct. 12 through Dec. 24.

Geese Light geese statewide -- Sept. 28 through Dec. 22.

White-fronted geese statewide -- Sept. 28 through Dec. 8.

Canada geese

Unit 1 -- Oct. 1 through Dec. 16.

Unit 2 -- Nov. 2 through Feb. 14.

Unit 3 - Jan. 11 through Jan. 19.

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