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SNWRC: fewer ducks; only 740 at L. Klamath

By Frank Galusha
09/10/13 -- The early September waterfowl population survey at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex included 882 geese and 111,093 ducks, all dabblers, according to Mike Carpenter, Wildlife Biologist at the Complex in Willows. Carpenter released results of the first survey this season today, which included the number of birds spotted at the Sacramento, Delevan, Colusa, Sutter, Butte Sink and Llano Seco portions of the Complex.

It will be interesting to see how these numbers grow over the next 60 days. The numbers are down a bit from last year. The same survey last year tallied 124,410 ducks and 691 geese; however, there was no flooding at Sutter or Llano Seco when that count was made. In both years the vast majority of the birds were seen at the Sacramento and Delevan units.

Sacramento Refuge, Sacramento Wildlife refuge, 111,000 ducks at SNWRC; only 740 at L. Klamath, Lower Klamath, Frank galusha, dabblers, goose, geese, wildlife hunting, hunting, Balance of the State Zone, outdoor recreation, outdoor sport
This photo shows a flock of snow geese. The darker goose in the forefront, often referred to as a blue goose, is actually a snow goose in the blue phase. Snow Geese have skyrocketed in numbers and are now among the most abundant waterfowl on the continent. Photo by Mike Peters

By early October of last year, the goose population had swelled to 250,000 (mostly white fronts) and ducks to 329,000 with pintail accounting for more than half of the dabblers. By early November there were 1,310,971 dabblers, 12,750 divers and 394,000 geese tallied. The Balance of the State Zone will open on October 19 to January 27 plus there will be an early Canada Goose season from October 5 through October 10. Daily bag is seven ducks, which may include 7 mallards (no more than 2 females), 2 pintail, 2 canvasback, 2 redheads and 3 scaup.
Possession limit triple the daily bag. There is also a Late Season Goose hunt from Feb 15 through February 19; see DFW regulations for 2013-14 for details.

Sacramento Refuge, Sacramento Wildlife refuge, 111,000 ducks at SNWRC; only 740 at L. Klamath, Lower Klamath, Frank galusha, dabblers, goose, geese, wildlife hunting, hunting, Balance of the State Zone, outdoor recreation, outdoor sport

« This is a scene that will be reenacted thousands of times this fall when hunters take to the marshes in pursuit of waterfowl, which by the way, are equally beautiful and totally unique in appearance by species. All sportsmen and women marvel at the beauty and vibrant colors sported by waterfowl, especially the males. To see just how different the various species look, visit and be sure you can identify each species, both male and female, accurately and quickly before pulling the trigger. Photo by USFWS

Since drought has struck the Klamath Basin and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife refuge, more birds might overfly that area or use the Butte Valley or Ash Creek/Modoc regions before heading into the Sacramento Valley. The early September Survey at the KB Refuge Complex is discouraging, especially on the Lower Klamath side where only 740 ducks and 120 geese were counted, which must be an all-time low. Numbers on the Tule Lake side were much better but still pitiful. About 63,000 ducks were there plus a couple thousand geese. The USFWS did not hold a drawing for the Lower Klamath opening weekend but names were drawn for those wanting to hunt Tule Lake fields, marshes, and Sump 1B (see Results). The Klamath Basin Refuge website has been modified significantly, take a look!

The season opens in the Northeast Corner of California on October 5 and closes on January 17, except the season on scaup closes December 29. Goose hunting begins October 5 and ends on January 12. The limits are liberal again with 7 daily and the possession limit is triple the daily bag. Daily bag may include: 7 mallards (only 2 may be hens), 2 pintail, 2 canvasback, 2 redheads and 3 scaup; for geese the limit is 10 daily with the possession limit triple the daily bag. Daily bag may include: 10 white geese, 6 dark geese (only 2 may be Large Canada geese).

Pheasant season on the KB Refuges (roosters only, is 2 daily and 4 in possession on Nov. 9 and 10) with the bag changing to three daily and 9 possession from November 11 to December 22. There will be a late season on white geese and white-fronted geese in this region on private lands in February and March. Youth waterfowl hunt is September 21-22 with bag same as regular season. See DFW 2013-14 regulations for details.

On the Oregon side of the Complex (Klamath County), the season opens on October 5 and closes on January 19 (except scaup closes on December 31) but with different possession limits in effect, as well as rules for early and late goose seasons.

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mountain lion on rocky edge, photo courtesy of UDWR and Carrie Wilson, CA DFW
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Never say never, rifle buk, Francisco Garcia,
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