With squirrel and dove seasons underway, the cavalcade of September hunting seasons is swiftly approaching. The combined early wood duck and teal seasons open Sept. 8-12; after that teal only continues Sept. 13-16. The daily combined bag limit is six (no more than two wood ducks allowed).

Canada goose continues Sept. 1-16; statewide raccoon/opossum begins at sunset Sept. 14; and, last but not least, archery deer begins on Sept. 22, as does archery bear. More details as each season arrives.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is seeking public input regarding deer management in Tennessee at three public meetings early next month. Meetings will be held in West, Middle and East Tennessee on the evenings of Sept. 4, 5 and 6, respectively. The public is welcome and encouraged to attend.

The TWRA is interested in getting feedback from those who experience impacts (positive or negative) from deer or the management of deer. This includes hunters, farmers, motorists, wildlife viewers, homeowners or anyone else with a vested interest in how deer are managed in the state.

Input received at the meeting will be used to guide the development of a five-year strategic plan for TWRA’s Deer Management Program. The East Tennessee meeting will be on 7-9 p.m. Sept. 6 at University of Tennessee, Plant Biotech Building (Rooms 156/157), 2505 E.J. Chapman Drive, Knoxville.

Waterfowlers, great news. It appears that the 2018 fall migration is going to be another excellent one. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has released its report on 2018 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June in the north central U.S. Pothole Region (USFWS) and the Canadian central provinces (Canadian Wildlife Service).

Overall duck numbers in the survey area remain high, but dropped a little from last year. Total populations were estimated at 41.2 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is down from last year’s estimate of 47.3 million (48.4 million in 2016) and is 17 percent above the 1955-2016 long-term average (LTA). The projected mallard fall flight index is 11.4 million birds, close to the 2017 figure of 12.9 million.

The main determining factor for duck breeding success is wetland and upland habitat conditions in the key breeding landscapes. Conditions observed across the U.S. and Canadian survey areas during the 2018 breeding population survey were generally similar to last year with a few exceptions. The total pond estimate for the United States and Canada combined was 5.2 million, which is 14 percent below the 2017 estimate of 6.1 million and identical to the LTA of 5.2 million.

Although mallard numbers in the survey declined by 12 percent, overall, the mainstay mallard populations remain in great shape, and the USFWS estimates the mallard fall flight will be similar to last year. However, the survey indicates a continuing concern for pintails and scaup, as both species remain below their LTA.

Ducks Unlimited’s Chief Scientist Tom Moorman had these observations: “The dip in the population for prairie-breeding puddle ducks is not unexpected and by no means unprecedented given that conditions on the prairies this spring were drier than last year. As a result, 2018 populations dropped accordingly. However, populations of all key species except northern pintails and scaup remain above long-term averages.

“This year’s breeding population decline is a reminder of the need to sustain the capacity of breeding habitats, particularly in the prairies as we go through natural variation in wetland conditions. Waterfowl populations are adapted well to short-term swings in habitat conditions, but we must continue to guard against the long-term loss of prairie breeding habitat.”

Following are the USFWS 2018 statistics for all species:

Mallards: 9.3 million, 12 percent lower than 2017 and 17 percent above LTA

Gadwall: 2.9 million, 31 percent lower than 2017 and 43 percent above LTA

American wigeon: 2.8 million, 2 percent above 2017 and 8 percent above LTA

Green-winged teal: 3 million, 16 percent lower than 2017 and 42 percent above LTA

Blue-winged teal: 6.5 million, 18 percent lower than 2017 and 27 percent above LTA

Northern shovelers: 4.2 million, 3 percent lower than 2017 and 62 percent above LTA

Northern pintails: 2.4 million, 18 percent lower than 2017 and 40 percent below LTA

Redheads: 1 million, 10 percent lower than 2017 and 38 percent above LTA

Canvasbacks: 0.7 million, 6 percent lower than 2017 and 16 percent above LTA

Scaup: 4 million, 9 percent below 2017 and 20 percent above LTA

View all the data and get a species-by-species breakdown at the Ducks Unlimited website www.ducks.org/ducknumbers.

Email wiest.tom@gmail.com to share with your news and comments with Tom Wiest.

Tom Wiest is a long time columnist on all matters outdoors. He welcomes news, questions and comments from readers.

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