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Fish and Wildlife reports on 2003-04 waterfowl hunt (07/28/2004)
Hunters harvested nearly 6.8 million ducks and 1.5 million geese in the Mississippi Flyway during the 2003 hunting season, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

More than 13.4 million ducks were harvested in the United States during the 2003-2004 waterfowl hunting season. In 2003 hunters harvested more than 3.8 million geese, up 13 percent from nearly 3.4 million the previous year.

The Service recently released a report estimating waterfowl hunting activity, success, and harvest, by species for the 2003 U.S. waterfowl hunting season.

Duck hunters spent about 7.4 million days in the field in the 2003 migratory waterfowl hunting season, down from 7.6 million days of duck hunting during the 2002 season. Hunters spent 4.7 million days hunting geese, similar to 2002.

In the Mississippi Flyway, the nearly 6.8 million ducks harvested was an increase from the nearly six million harvested in 2002. The number of geese harvested was up 300,000 from 1.2 million in 2002.

In the Atlantic Flyway, more than 1.6 million ducks were harvested last season, down from 1.8 million the previous year. The 743,000 geeseharvested in 2003 was down from 797,000 in 2002.

In the Central Flyway, hunters bagged nearly 2.5 million ducks last season. This is down from nearly 2.6 million in 2002. The 2003 harvest of 1.1 million geese was up from 979,000 in 2002.

In the Pacific Flyway, hunters harvested a total of more than 2.4 million ducks, up from nearly 2.3 million in 2002. The number of geese harvested, nearly 440,000, was up from 362,000 the year before.

In Alaska, more than 71,000 ducks were harvested, down from nearly 75,000 in the previous season. The goose harvest at 6,900 was up from 6,000 in the previous year.

Mallards were the most prevalent duck in the bag for hunters in the United States, with more than 5 million birds harvested last season. Other species popular among waterfowlers were green winged teal with more than 1.5 million birds harvested; gadwall with nearly 1.5 million harvested; wood duck, at more than 1.2 million harvested and blue winged teal, with nearly 1 million harvested.

Canada geese were the most prevalent goose in the bay by hunters in the hunted most in the United States, with nearly 2.9 million birds harvested last season.

The 1998 conservation order to expand light goose hunting is bringing the population down. According to mid-winter surveys, the population peaked in 1998 at more than 3 million birds. The population today is nearly 2.4 million birds. The biologists' target population is little more than a million birds. Light goose over-population has caused extensive damage in Arctic breeding areas.

The Service generates the estimates contained in this report based on surveys of selected waterfowl hunters, through the cooperative State-Federal Harvest Information Program. These surveys allow state wildlife agencies and the Service to develop estimates of the number of all migratory birds harvested throughout the country, which helps the Service establish the next hunting season and maintain healthy waterfowl populations. 


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