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Hyde-Smith introduces bill to extend duck hunting season

Photo Courtesy of TeleSouth Communications Inc.

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has authored and introduced her first piece of legislation that would allow states to extend duck hunting season to January 31.

In addition to changing the annual federal framework closing date to January 31, the Migratory Bird Framework and Hunting Opportunities for Veterans Act would also set aside the first weekend in February for duck hunting by youths, veterans, active duty members of the Armed Forces and National Guard.

“My legislation is about states’ rights, establishing consistent closing dates, and showing a small gesture of appreciation to those who defend our country,” said Hyde-Smith. “It would also have the added benefit of generating more revenue for conservation, habitat improvements, and hunter education. The Fish and Wildlife Service doesn’t have any sound reason for not giving states the option to extend their duck season closing date to the end of January.  Sportsmen in Mississippi and other states have for year sought this change but to no avail.  My bill would correct that.”

The legislation would set January 31 as the annual closing date for the federal duck season framework in the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has in recent years set the federal deadline as the last Sunday in January, which might fall on January 25 one year and January 31 the next, cutting short late-season opportunities for some states when hunting is best.

Hyde-Smith said that by changing the date to January 31st, the bill would not affect the length of the season in terms of days, or force states to extend duck season. Instead, it would allow each state to set an annual deadline that best meets its own needs.  If enacted, only 10 additional days of duck hunting would be added over the next five years as result of the new opportunities created the first weekend of February for veterans, active duty members of the Armed Forces and National Guard, and youths.

If the legislation gets passed, the bill would benefit duck populations and duck habitat nationwide as a result of additional revenues generated from ammunition sales pursuant to the Pittman-Robertson Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act used to support state wildlife agencies with conservation and habitat improvement efforts, and hunter education programs.  In addition, 98 cents of every additional dollar spent on Federal Duck Stamps would be deposited into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund to protect and restore migratory bird habitat.

Hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching had a $2.7 billion economic impact in Mississippi in 2017, with $1.14 billion attributed to hunting alone, according to the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine.

“A slight extension to the season is reasonable and one way to support hunting, which is more than a tradition in Mississippi,” Hyde-Smith said. “It is an economic powerhouse. A few additional days of duck hunting for our military and veterans could generate additional economic activity in states that choose to extend duck season.”

Mississippi is part of the Mississippi Flyway, which also includes Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

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