Hunters will find fewer ducks this year and new, more stringent hunting regulations, according to Allan Hash, Division of Wildlife Resources conservation officer for north Davis County.
Hash said the number of ducks continues to decline, as it has for the past 10 years - mostly due to the continued drainage of marsh land for other uses; drought, which has dried up breeding areas; and the rise of the Great Salt Lake, which killed out local feeding and nesting areas.Even though the Great Salt Lake is now declining in size, the damage has been done, he said.
The duck season, which opens at noon Oct. 8, will close earlier this year on Dec. 4. Daily hunting will be a half hour shorter since hunting will start at sunrise instead of a half hour before sunrise - the first time this restriction has been in effect since the 1960s, Hash said.
"Often, that half hour before sunrise was one of the sure times a hunter could get a couple of ducks as they flew out of the marsh in the morning. The tricky thing about it, though, was that identification was difficult. Retrieving downed birds was more difficult, too, because of the diminished light."
For the first time since the 1960s, daily bag limits have been reduced too, Hash said. "Last year, hunters were allowed five ducks daily. This year the bag limit is four.
"Hunters are also prohibited from shooting canvasback ducks. Hunters will be allowed to take two redhead ducks and one pintail duck daily. They may not have more than three mallards, one of which may be a female.
"These regulations are designed to protect ducks because of their severe decline in numbers. More than ever before, hunters will have to know their ducks and be able to identify species in flight before they shoot."
Hunters may begin shooting geese on opening day of the duck hunt and goose hunting will continue through Jan. 1, 1989, he said.
"Hunters who are 16 years or older must purchase both the Utah state duck stamp and the federal duck stamp as well as comply with the steel shot hunting restrictions in Davis, Salt Lake, Box Elder, Cache, Utah and Weber counties."