Migrating teal numbers similar to last year, well above long-term average
PRATT -- The first waterfowl that hunters may pursue each year are teal, and their numbers are generally high. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this year's blue-winged teal breeding population of 7.4 million is 11 percent above last year and 60 percent above the long-term average. The breeding population of green-winged teal is 3.4 million, 16 percent above last year and 79 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. 12-27. In the High Plains Zone (west of Highway 283), the season runs Sept. 19-26. 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 (Oct. 3-4) 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 good to excellent hunting conditions. A good hatch of resident ducks occurred this summer, and numerous broods of blue-winged teal have been seen. Migrating blue-winged teal are showing up and number 5,000-10,000. For the teal season, Pools 2, 3A, and 4B will have water. The greatest depths for boats will be in Pools 2 and 4B. Pool 3A will be held at about 5 to 8 inches. All of these pools have excellent waterfowl food sources.

Early September rains could enhance conditions at nearby Quivira National Wildlife Refuge, but staff there report that their first survey of the season will begin Sept. 9. Results should be posted by Sept. 10 at www.fws.gov/quivira and updated every two weeks.

Good hunting conditions are also expected at Glen Elder, Jamestown, Norton, Webster, Benedictine, Texas Lake, McPherson Valley Wetlands, 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.