Waterfowl numbers high as hunting seasons open
Waterfowl hunting seasons in many parts of South Dakota open this weekend, and the Department of Game, Fish and Parks says hunters will experience some of the largest populations of ducks and geese in North America.
With large amounts of wetland and grassland habitat, South Dakota has some of the most significant waterfowl breeding areas in the United States. According to survey data from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), hunting opportunities this fall may be the best in decades.
The USFWS Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey shows that South Dakota’s duck population increased from 4.8 million in 2009 to 5.8 million this year. The estimate includes more than 1 million mallards and more than 2 million blue-winged teal.
“It has been a thrill driving by different bodies of water in the state this summer and observing the waterfowl activity,” said Spencer Vaa, South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks waterfowl biologist. “I’m excited about the potential for an excellent hunting season. South Dakota has a great waterfowl resource this year, and hunting opportunities will be good in most areas.”
Waterfowl hunting in many parts of South Dakota opens on Saturday, Sept. 25. Hunters are reminded that in addition to their general hunting licenses, waterfowl hunters also need a State Migratory Bird Certification and a Federal Duck Stamp. Information on season dates can be found in the 2010 Hunting and Trapping Handbook, or online at http://www.gfp.sd.gov/hunting/waterfowl/.