Waterfowl hunters in Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan participated in a special September teal season for the first time since 1969 as part of a three-year experiment authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).
Teal hunting seasons are held in September as blue-winged teal are an early migrating duck, often having already left the state prior to the opening of the regular duck season. In Iowa, the special teal season was Sept. 6-21.
The experiment used trained observers to study hunters duck identification skills, participation and harvest. Data collected during the first experimental season in 2014 indicates hunters were successful in properly identifying ducks in 94 percent of opportunities.
“Our first year results give us confidence in promoting this opportunity for hunters again next season,” said Orrin Jones, waterfowl research biologist with Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Bureau.
The DNR has posted the first year results from the three year special September teal season experiment on its website at www.iowadnr.gov/teal
The three study states and Minnesota are part of a regional group that forms the production states of the Mississippi Flyway Council. The Mississippi Flyway Council is a coalition of 14 states, three provinces, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service which formulate management recommendations for migratory birds in central North America.
In 1971, the USFWS separated the Mississippi Flyway states into production states, of which Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota were classified, and nonproduction states – Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee. Nonproduction states were allowed a special September teal season while the production states were excluded from this opportunity in order to protect other duck species in production states from unintentional harvest. The southern, nonproduction states have benefited from an additional 440 days of waterfowl hunting that the northern production states.
The experimental teal season became a possibility due to the recent record high duck populations and a desire for more equitable distribution of harvest opportunity for the northern states.