Releases by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service detailing the waterfowl populations status report for 2019 https://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/pdf/surveys-and-data/Population-status/Waterfowl/WaterfowlPopulationStatusReport19.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2EdW5c_rrhTXYcNpJCVetJhnX6si5xgTET_9LiylEOuwlU-JkAhkyyDFM
Migratory Game Bird Hunting Seasons are posted here on the MD DNR site. https://news.maryland.gov/dnr/2019/08/20/migratory-game-bird-hunting-seasons-2019-2020-announced/?fbclid=IwAR37JUMwFoHdV7fcn6tHxGI_O3-PBF0a-FD868eU7qQWFdYxR0I5QSIcWNI
A long, but interesting read , about the process of setting of waterfowl seasons. https://www.fws.gov/migr…/…/management/AHM/AHMReport2020.pdf
Final Selection 2019-2020 Waterfowl Seasons
Senate Bill SB 293 – Sunday Waterfowl Hunting
Bill introduced 2019 legislative session to open waterfowl hunting on Sunday’s failed in Senate Committee. The Bill’s Sponsor plans to reintroduce Bill again 2020 legislative session.
Bay Journal Article on 2019-2020 AP Geese Season Reduction
DNR 2019 Winter Survey – decrease in AP Geese
February 22, 2019
Annual Survey Counts Maryland’s Ducks, Geese and Swans
In early January, aerial survey teams of pilots and biologists from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources made visual estimates of the ducks, geese and swans along most of the state’s Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River and Atlantic coast shorelines. This year, the teams counted about 566,300 waterfowl.
Maryland’s mid-winter waterfowl survey is part of an annual, nationwide effort to survey waterfowl on their wintering grounds to monitor local distribution and habitat affiliations.
“In early January of each year, we fly the same survey routes over much of Maryland’s tidal shoreline and estimate waterfowl numbers by species,” Waterfowl Program Manager Josh Homyack said. “This information generates not only a snapshot of how waterfowl are using our waters in a given year, but also how that use has changed in the decades since the survey began in 1955.”
Overall, dabbling ducks were lower (64,400) than last winter while diving duck numbers (182,000) were very similar to last winter’s count. Survey teams also observed fewer Canada geese (250,200) than last year’s record count.
Observation teams noted that overall numbers of waterfowl were more difficult to count this year due to lack of snow and ice cover, which normally helps concentrate birds into smaller areas.
Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Results 2015-2019
(figures rounded to the nearest hundred)
MDWFA rallies stake holders to keep Lewis Wharf boat ramp open in Dorchester County.
November 2018 up date, no trespassing signs and new gate access have been removed so campaign has been successful.
Mallard Decline Brochure (click on link)
Eastern Mallard Status and Issues
(mallard bag limit reduction from 4 to 2 beginning 2019/2020 season framework)
The Atlantic Flyway Council and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are poised to reduce the mallard bag limit in the Atlantic Flyway from 4 to 2 birds per day starting with the 2019–2020 hunting. Mallards are managed as three distinct population units including Western (California, Oregon and Washington), Mid-continent (prairie pothole region, parklands and boreal forest) and Eastern (northeast states and eastern Canada). Bag limits and season lengths for the Atlantic Flyway are primarily influenced by the population status of eastern mallards through an adaptive harvest management (AHM) framework. Band recovery information suggests that most mallards harvested from North Carolina to eastern Canada are produced within the region. In recent years, the breeding population of mallards in eastern Canada has been stable but declining in the northeastern states especially New York and Pennsylvania. The decline is significant enough to cause the current AHM model to predict restrictive seasons in the Atlantic Flyway.
Based on historical records, mallards in northeastern North America were common migrants but rarely bred there. Depletion of wild stocks due to market gunning and later the outlawing of live decoys resulted in the wholesale release of captive mallards. Thus, the release of captive reared birds was likely more responsible for mallards appearing in the northeast than eastward expansion from the core range in the Prairie Pothole Region. In fact, recent genetic studies suggest eastern mallards are more closely related to Old World mallards than their prairie brethren. Manmade modifications to the landscape allowed mallards to nest in areas previously unexploited by the species and populations of mallards in the northeast grew significantly over time as they pioneered new habitat.
Duck harvest management in the Atlantic Flyway was historically based on the status of prairie ducks and later mallards via adaptive harvest management (AHM). Drastic population declines due to drought on the prairies during the 1980s, resulting restrictive seasons (3 birds/day and 30-day seasons) and band recovery data suggesting few prairie ducks are harvested in the Atlantic Flyway served as an impetus for data collection and investigating AHM for eastern mallards. Following a decade of data collection through the Atlantic Flyway Breeding Waterfowl Survey, the Eastern Survey Area Breeding Waterfowl Survey (Canada) and intensified preseason banding, an AHM model for eastern mallards was established in 2000 and has informed harvest management in the Atlantic Flyway to present.
The eastern mallard breeding population reached a peak of 1.1 million in 2004 but has significantly declined since and last year’s estimate was approximately 650,000. While the population in eastern Canada has largely been stable, it has been declining in the northeast U.S., especially in New York and Pennsylvania. The decline since 2004 represents about 420,000 birds and is significant enough for the current AHM model to recommend reduced hunter harvest.
The cause of the eastern mallard population decline is undetermined. Hypothesized reasons for the decline include loss of carrying capacity on breeding and non-breeding areas, reduction in “artificial” winter feeding activities in the NE states, over harvest, and the population exceeding carrying capacity and stabilizing at a lower equilibrium population near carrying capacity (e.g., like reintroduced wild turkey populations). Biologists are currently examining existing data sets (juvenile/adult age ratios and banding data) to identify potential issues with production and survival.
Atlantic Flyway biologists from the states and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are currently working towards a new multi-stock AHM model that will include mallards and four additional species including green-winged-teal, wood duck, ring-necked duck and goldeneye. Collectively, these species make up about 60% of the Atlantic Flyway duck harvest. Consequently, hunters will likely retain liberal or moderate season packages (60 and 45 days, respectively). Despite this forthcoming change, the Atlantic Flyway is proposing to reduce the mallard daily bag limit from 4 to 2 starting in 2019. Modeling suggests that reducing the bag in this manner will reduce harvest by 25% and achieve a sustainable harvest level.
Ramifications of the observed decline are complex and extend beyond eastern mallards. Like eastern mallards, the American black duck, a flagship species of the Atlantic Coast Joint Venture and high priority NAWMP species, harvest is managed via a species-specific AHM model. Within the black duck AHM model it is hypothesized that the abundance of eastern mallards adversely impacts the black duck population via reduced production. The mechanism for this potential impact is via competition during the breeding season as these species are closely related both morphologically and genetically. There is also potential for hybridization between these two species where they overlap on non-breeding areas. Thus, there are potential tradeoffs when considering management decisions surrounding these two species.
There is concern that the declining eastern mallard population and proposed bag restriction will catch Atlantic Flyway hunters off guard and potentially result in reductions in hunter numbers, private habitats managed for waterfowl, and funding for habitat programs. Thus, there is an opportunity for DU to play a proactive role in communications surrounding this issue. At a minimum, consideration should be given towards more holistic reporting regarding breeding waterfowl population status beyond the Mid-continent (Traditional Survey Area encompassing the PPR). Additional communications strategies should also be discussed regarding proposed changes to harvest regulations coming in 2019.
DU should also be prepared to consider engaging in science efforts to identify causes and solutions where warranted. In addition, if habitat carrying capacity is identified as a bottleneck, DU will certainly have a role to play in restoration of wetlands and associated uplands. Finally, as this issue unfolds over the course of the next two years, the waterfowl management system will continue working as designed, adapting to new information, and enabling refinement of DU’s role in the northern Atlantic Flyway states and provinces.
John Coluccy, DU’s Director of Conservation Planning for the Great Lakes/Atlantic Region
Spring is coming and it is time to maintain or build new wood duck boxes. MDWFA has directions and plans for you on how to build and install your wood duck boxes.
Our own Aaron Ward has made instruction on how to build the nesting boxes.
Here is another article on how to hang the boxes with the predator guards.
Maryland Wood Duck Initiative
September 2018 Director’s Message
Despite early season gains and encouragement at two large sites, the tally elsewhere has been poor involving about 50% of the nest boxes. Counts are not finalized but the overall yield may indicate the most significant drop in production recorded by MWDI – an 8-12% decline. Habitat has been very good but the drop in total eggs being laid and the increased level of nests failures at modest – moderate clutch sizes is baffling.
My optimism for the final 2017 production summary was also misplaced as the total hatch dropped 1.5% to 7,746 from7,863 instead of exceeding 8,000 as projected. Production was from 117 sites involving 1,775 boxes. New sites the past two years while showing moderate performance have been below expectations but this only accounts for a portion of the decline as final reports from a host of smaller projects were also below expectations. The annual survey routinely includes a drop in production from old sites where supervision has been lacking. Gains elsewhere were insufficient or non-existent to offset these estimated reductions.
The relationship with Phoenix Metals continues to be great. We note that private program sponsors continue to add predator guards at a more rapid pace than boxes which is a tangible “best practices” enhancement that will benefit overall Maryland production.
Two additional box assembly events have been held since April and two additional ones are scheduled for this fall at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center and Maret School bringing MWDI’s total to 6 this year.
MWDI has supplies for new public projects if you wish to initiate one. We will review site habitat, assist box location and train volunteers but you must have a project manager idetified to monitor the project after installation.
As always, thank you to our dedicated volunteers for helping to make a difference.
MWDI’s Annual Box & Kit
November 6, 2018
MWDI is once again aggregating orders with its lumber purchase for public projects to provide wholesale pricing to private program sponsors. The lumber cost component reflects MWDI’s expected direct costs for wood, shipping and waste. MWDI has made arrangements to have the wood cut into kits or assembled into boxes if preferred. The costs are the same as 2017.
Wood Duck Box assembled $45.00 each
Wood Duck Box kit (buyer must assemble) $38.00
Wood Duck box lumber (buyer must cut & assemble) $30.00
Boxes / kits do not include predator guards or poles. Metal, cone shaped predator guards can be obtained for $14 + tax each from Phoenix Metals (Tammy Schaare 410-633-0685 ext 25. Tschaare@wemakeduct.com). Baltimore location. Shipping extra out of state. MWDI can likely assist pickup / delivery of the guards with or without the lumber, boxes or kits as we will have a supply in Rock Hall and Washington DC. Payment pre-delivery needed. Guards can fit 4x4” square or smaller round poles – specify style when placing the order.
Bluebird box lumber is $7.25, $11.00 per kit or $17 fully assembled.
MWDI expects the purchaser to pick up the boxes / kits in Rock Hall, Washington, DC, along Route 50 between these locations or between Salisbury and Easton if other delivery arrangements cannot be coordinated. Lumber will likely be available by early January, kits by early February and assembled boxes will be available by late February 2019.
WD box kits are approximately 22”tall x 9 1/4”wide x ¾” thick. BB box kits are made from 5 ½” x ¾” nominal width boards. Lumber is rough cut one side, kiln dried cypress supplied from South Carolina. MWDI’s website, www.mwdi.net, has detailed assembly plans for the side door boxes.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to place an order. Payment by check must be received by December 15, 2018. Pre-payment is necessary, or the order will not be included.
Maryland Wood Duck Initiative
3021 45th St NW
Washington, DC 20016
Eastern Neck NWR Needs Your Help
We need your help. Our sister refuge Eastern Neck National Wildlife Refuge (in Rock Hall, Maryland) is in danger of closing due to lack of funds needed to hire a manager. The nonprofit Friends of Eastern Neck have been helping to fill the labor void at the refuge, but if funding for a new manager does not come soon, the US Fish and Wildlife Service has said they could close the refuge.
Closing would impact wildlife protection, habitat and food management, and recreational access for birders, photographers, families, school groups, hunters, anglers, and the volunteers. It would also impact tourism dollars in local towns.
We need all citizens to write an email to Scott Kahan, Northeast Regional Chief in the National Wildlife Refuge System, urging that they hire a new manager – visit our web page for details on sending an email. email@example.com (firstname.lastname@example.org).
U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, as well as U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (MD-1) https://harris.house.gov/contact/email have offered their support for hiring a new manager. If you live in Maryland, we would appreciate you emailing them about this issue and tagging them in social media using information on our web page. We greatly appreciate any help you can provide to raise awareness and increase the response from citizens supporting the refuge
Please visit Friends of Blackwater Water and Eastern Neck for links
MDWFA sent a letter to Chief Scott Kahan, Chief of National Refuge System urging replacement of on-site Refuge Manager as thousands of wintering waterfowl are dependent on historical and traditional management of Eastern Neck N.W.F.
MDWFA staff members Greg Tracey and Paul Donhauser attended the Baltimore County Council legislative session on July 5, 2016 concerning Bill 42-16, which, in its original form (a) prohibits possession of firearms and all knives on County property, and (b) removes the current exemption for “dogs being used or trained for hunting” to the County’s law requiring that dogs be leashed on County property.
The bill passed last night on a vote of 4-3, with Councilmembers Kach, Crandell, and Marks voting against it (in our favor). Prior to its passing, the amendment clarifying “dangerous weapons” (as opposed to unilaterally prohibiting ALL knives) and exempting hunters from the firearms prohibition was adopted. Another amendment was introduced by Councilman Kach to exempt Handgun Wear & Carry permit holders from the firearms prohibition, which did not pass (Councilmembers Kach, Crandell, and Marks voted in favor of the amendment). An amendment concerning the hunting dogs exemption was not introduced or considered.
What it means: the County claims firearm possession in County parks has been illegal since 1986 per executive order from the Parks & Recreation Director and that hunters who have been bringing firearms into County parks since that time have been doing so illegally. The passing of this bill now legitimizes/legalizes a hunter exemption to the that prohibition. This is a win that the MDWFA was instrumental in obtaining. However, we lost on the issue of exempting “dogs who are being used or trained for hunting” from the County’s leash laws. Current law (for the next 45 days) is that dogs being used or trained for hunting are exempt from the law requiring dogs be leashed on County property. The passing of this bill removes that exemption.
Other notables: Four individuals on behalf of the American Kennel Club attended and supported MDWFA’s position.
What’s next: The bill is still pending the County Executive’s signature before it is signed into law. MDWFA will contact his office with the AKC delegates about requesting his veto on the bill until the retriever exemption is reinstated, though the bill was introduced at his request so that would be a long shot. Our Baltimore County members are encouraged to contact him as well.
MDWFA staff spoke with the Director of Parks & Recreation, Barry Williams, about obtaining a leash law exemption for certain parks. He was amenable to this proposal. MDWFA staff is working with the AKC representatives to schedule a meeting with Director Williams about which parks would be allowed to be excepted, which will hopefully occur in the next three weeks. Any members who use Baltimore County parks for this purpose are encouraged to contact MDWFA staff to advise which parks are important to them to use so that those properties can be proposed at the meeting.
All in all, a 50% win for Maryland Waterfowlers and the MDWFA will continue to work with the County to protect waterfowlers’ interests.
by Brian Cain
Greg Tracey, Paul Donhauser, and I attended the Baltimore County Council meeting on Tuesday to address Bill 42-16 which would have made it illegal for anyone to possess firearms or knives on Baltimore Co. parks or property and subject such weapons to confiscation. The bill would also not allow retriever dog training on county property or parks. We thought the bill was poorly written and too broad and would hurt those stakeholders that have contributed so much in way of licenses etc.
The council agreed that the bill was hastily written and amended it on the spot to allow a licensed hunter to transport cased weapons at boat ramps, etc. during hunting seasons. They are also going to amend the bill to outlaw only weapon type knives and not pen knives and fillet knives. As was pointed out by the council, it has ALWAYS been illegal to have guns on county park property even though a blind eye was turned to allow us to hunt, now it will be totally LEGAL to have our guns on property with boat ramps. They are also going to address the hunting dog issue. We are waiting to read all of the amendments before signing off on them. Councilman Wade Koch was definitely on our side as was another councilman that I don’t know.
Barry Williams, the Director of Baltimore County Parks and Recreation followed us out of the room to speak with us and was very amenable to our proposed changes. I spoke with him on the Baltimore County land offshore waterfowl hunting and, again, explained that it’s never been a safety issue and the only place we had any problem was at Cox’s Point. I know the land is tied up in riparian licensing for another 2 years (I think) and proposed that we, MDWFA, submit a map to him of the properties we would like turned back on and he agreed that he would entertain such an exercise. So, it looks much more positive that we may get Baltimore Co property turned back on.
So, all in all it was a double win for MDWFA yesterday at the County Council meeting. The vote on the Bill is July 5th and I will be out of state but Greg and Paul will monitor the amendments.
by Aaron Ward
Greetings from the Lower Shore. Just in time for the 2016 nesting season, MDWFA & Maryland Wood Duck Initiative volunteers have concluded Wood Duck box inspections in Worcester County for the 2015 nesting season.
The Scope: In Worcester County volunteers manage approximately 125 boxes on public lands. Inspections take between 14-20 hours per year (for one person) to conclude.
The Numbers: Overall ducks hatched were slightly lower (41 eggs) from 2014, but the hatched percentage (74%) was up 1% over 2014 (73%) and up 12% over 2013 (62%). The average number of eggs per nest was 9.
The Conclusion: Feel good about the contribution we are making to keep Wood Ducks a successful species in Maryland. With our efforts, we are making it possible for hens to have a safe place to nest & produce more ducklings. Once they leave the nest, it’s totally up to her & the environment. Hopefully more ducks produced will result in more hens returning in coming years!
If you haven’t already volunteered in your local area & would like to assist in the cooperative Wood Duck project, please contact me. I’d love to share my experience with you and fuel your fire to keep them squealing through the trees for generations to come!