Decreasing eastern mallard populations are forcing Atlantic Flyway states to change their regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl seasons, according to Mike Peters, waterfowl biologist for the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources.
Hunters will not see a change in the total waterfowl daily bag limit or season length, but there will be a reduction in the mallard daily bag limit from four to two birds, of which only one can be a hen.
“This is a big deal,” Peters said in a DNR press release. “For the past 20 years, we have experienced liberal seasons with six-bird per day bag limits and 60-day seasons with mallards being a big part of the harvest.”
While the mid-continent breeding population of mallards is stable, the breeding population in the northeast United States has declined by about 38 percent since 1998, according to the press release. The northeastern population of mallards makes up 60 percent of the mallards harvested in the Atlantic Flyway. This translates into about 40 percent fewer mallards being harvested in the Atlantic Flyway in 2016 than in 1998.
Atlantic Flyway states include West Virginia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.
“We will continue to closely monitor these mallard populations as well as their response to these regulation changes,” Peters said. “Future bag limits will be based upon surveys and other data.”
Related social media hashtags are #wvhunt and #wvdnr.