Migrating teal numbers similar to last year, well above long-term average
PRATT -- Teal are the smallest ducks, but they are popular among waterfowl hunters; they are the first waterfowl that hunters may pursue each year, and their numbers are generally high. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this year's blue-winged teal estimated population of 6.6 million birds is similar to last year's estimate of 6.7 million birds, 45 percent above the long-term average. The estimated population of green-winged teal is 3 million, also similar to last year and 57 percent above the long-term average. This should make for good hunting in the Sunflower State's two September teal hunting zones.

In the Low Plains Zone (all of Kansas east of Highway 283), the season runs Sept. 13-28. In the High Plains Zone (west of Highway 283), the season runs Sept. 13-20. The shorter season in the High Plains is mandated by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act’s 107-day limit on total duck season days. Under the liberal duck season frameworks, 97 days are available for regular duck seasons in the High Plains Zone. When the two-day High Plains youth season (Sept. 27-28) is added, that leaves only eight days for an early teal season.

Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, near Great Bend -- one of the state's premier waterfowl hunting areas -- reports that wetland vegetation has responded well since last year's flooding. Bulrushes predominate in the open water portions of the pools while cattail, dock, smartweed, and some grasses can be found in the perimeter areas. This should make for a good teal season. Staff have begun releasing water from Pool 1 into the hunting pools, so water levels may be low for teal season.

Late-summer rains have left nearby Quivira National Wildlife Refuge in good shape and should provide good hunting, as well.

Good hunting conditions are also expected at Glen Elder, Jamestown, Webster, Hillsdale, Tuttle Creek, Texas Lake, McPherson Wetlands, Marion, and Neosho wildlife areas. The state's reservoirs should not be overlooked, either, and standing water and ponds on private ground could be good, depending on local rainfall. Other areas of the state may improve as birds migrate south. Check the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks' (KDWP) waterfowl reports online at www.kdwp.state.ks.us for updated information. Just type "waterfowl reports" in the search box.

The daily bag limit is four teal with a possession limit of eight. All waterfowl hunters 16 and older must have a federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, and all hunters who are required to obtain a license must also have a Kansas State Waterfowl Habitat Stamp and a Kansas Harvest Information Program (HIP) stamp before attempting to take ducks, geese, or mergansers. (Those not required to have a Kansas hunting license include people hunting their own land, and residents 15 and younger or 65 and older.)

For more information, phone 620-672-5911.