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The state’s mallard harvest is up 55 percent since 2010, to 197,000 last season. “That’s still below the long-term average of 215,000,’’ Cordts said.
This year’s duck season opens Sept. 21 — the earliest since 1945. Federal officials have proposed boosting the possession limits of ducks and geese to triple the daily bag. Currently, the possession limits are double the daily bag.
Pheasants still down
The good news: Hunters bagged 29 percent more birds — 264,000 — in 2012 than they did the previous year.
The bad news: It was just half the number of birds shot four years ago, and was the third-lowest harvest in the past 26 years.
In a nutshell, hunting wasn’t good.
And with habitat being lost rapidly, many believe pheasant hunting is unlikely to improve significantly any time soon. Remarkably, the DNR sold about 3,700 more pheasant stamps last year than in 2011. But the total — 90,541 — remains the second-lowest in 15 years.
Here are more 2012 harvest figures from the DNR’s survey: Canada geese, 315,000, up 6 percent; crows, 95,000, up 15 percent; woodcock, 32,000, up 22 percent; mourning doves, 97,000, up 24 percent; gray squirrels, 137,000, up 6 percent; cottontails, 67,000, up 73 percent.
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Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?