Georgia Wildlife Resources Division
2067 U.S. Hwy. 278, SE, Social Circle, GA 30025
Various types of data are collected by state agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service before hunting regulations are established. Biologists conduct aerial surveys of available wetlands across the breeding area during the late spring, and then resurvey those same areas later in the summer to estimate duck numbers and remaining wetlands. These data are used to calculate the "Fall Flight Index," an index to the number of ducks that will fly south for the winter. Band return data are used to estimate harvest levels and survival rates. The new Harvest Information Program (HIP) questionnaire is also used to estimate harvest, hunter numbers, and hunter activity. Wings collected from hunter-harvested ducks are used to estimate the proportion of the harvest that is composed of males, females, adults, and juveniles.
The individual states then meet collectively as Flyways and combine all of this information into a recommendation to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the upcoming hunting season. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service then combines the biological recommendations with public comment and opinion to set hunting regulations for the fall hunting season. This process is repeated annually to ensure that hunting regulations remain flexible to adjust for annual fluctuations in waterfowl population levels.