By Howard Meyerson
Waterfowl hunters have a unique opportunity for some fast-action shooting come September when Michigan holds its first early teal season after nearly 50 years.
The seven-day, experimental season runs September 1-7. It was approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) as a three-year trial after agency staff completed a teal “harvest assessment” that showed the population could withstand additional hunting pressure. FWS is the federal agency that establishes the legal framework for hunting waterfowl each year.
“Teal populations have been going up continentally” said Barb Avers, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources waterfowl program specialist. “It’s taken a long time to get this to happen. It’s something that has been discussed at the (Mississippi) flyway level for many years. Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa are going ahead with it. Minnesota opted not to this year. Our decision to go ahead is in response to hunters on the Citizens Waterfowl Advisory Committee who have asked why we can’t have one.”
Teal are one of nation’s more abundant waterfowl species, according to the FWS. Its 2014 survey of blue-winged teal breeding across North American prairies estimates the continental population at 8.5 million, similar to 2013 and 75 percent higher than the long-term average. Green-winged teal numbered 3.4 million, similar to last year and 69 percent above the long-term average.
But the success of Michigan’s experimental season will depend on hunters shooting the right ducks. Only teal can be harvested – along with Canada geese. The early season for Canada geese also opens statewide on September 1. Continue reading