Arkansas’s changes to duck season brought up in Mississippi commission meeting

Published 1:13 pm Tuesday, April 30, 2024

JACKSON — In a teleconference last Thursday, Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Commissioners were made aware of a recent action to reduce the daily bag limit for mallard hens in Arkansas. The point was brought up at the end of a presentation on season dates recommendation in a commission meeting. 

Houston Havens, Waterfowl Program Director, explained to commissioners that states had the authority to adjust their daily bag limits within the federal guidelines. Commissioner William Mounger brought up the point as questions were asked about the duck population. While teal populations have held strong in recent years, pintails and mallards have been below the long term average. 

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission reduced the mallard hen bag limit from 2 to 1 while keeping the mallard daily bag limit at 4. The AGFC also moved its season closing date to January 26 instead of January 31. 

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Commissioners did not discuss the mallard daily bag limit further and did not take any action other than approve the season dates for 2024-2025. 

Havens said all of the season dates were selected based on survey data collected in May which have maintained huntable populations for more liberal season frameworks. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service looks at breeding numbers and breeding habitat and produces a report each summer from the prairie pothole region. A majority of Mississippi’s ducks come from the prairie pothole region in central Canada, North Dakota and South Dakota. 

“We have seen overall decline, mallards in particular, but we are hopeful the decline will not continue,” Havens said. “Benchmarks are within the system should we have a continued decline to where we would have to shorten the season and reduce bag limits. We are not there yet and hopefully won’t be. We will pay attention to those surveys as they are implemented and data is released.” 

MDWFP will host its next commission meeting on May 16 at their headquarters in Jackson. A fallen officer ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. that morning with Mississippi House Speaker Jason White as a special guest. The ceremony will be before the business session of the commission meeting at 1 p.m. All times are tentative and subject to change.