Waterfowl hunters generally supported a split season in Oklahoma according to survey results shared during
the Feb. 11 meeting of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission. (Jeremy Matthew/RPS2018)
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Wildlife Commissioners Receive Overview of Waterfowl Hunter Survey
Members of the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission received an overview of results from a recent survey of waterfowl hunters during their regular February meeting Monday, Feb. 11, in Oklahoma City.
The comprehensive survey conducted in October and November 2018 questioned resident and nonresident hunters who pursue waterfowl in Oklahoma about various issues such as hunting season dates and zones.
Josh Richardson, migratory game bird senior biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said this survey was the most comprehensive the Department has conducted of waterfowl hunters, with 5,608 responses collected from an estimated 15,000 active waterfowl hunters in Oklahoma.
Results indicated most respondents were neutral or satisfied about the current number and location of zones. But when asked how zones should be handled in the future, respondents were divided between keeping the current configuration (28 percent) or combining Zones 1 and 2 (24.5 percent), while 38.5 percent had no opinion.
When asked about the season split, more respondents were satisfied (24.5 percent) than dissatisfied (16.5 percent) with having a split, but satisfaction about the timing of the split was less defined (21 percent satisfied, 18.5 percent dissatisfied). The survey also indicated that most waterfowl hunting occurs on weekend days, and that having waterfowl seasons open on weekends and holidays such as Thanksgiving is important.
Richardson said a final report on this waterfowl hunting survey would be issued sometime after public hearings on Department rule change proposals are held March 7. Dates for the 2019-20 Oklahoma waterfowl hunting seasons will be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in early May.
While changes to season dates and split timing/length can be made annually, changes related to zones are only allowed on 5-year intervals. Any proposed changed in Oklahoma would be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 2020 and then go into effect for the 2021-22 waterfowl seasons.
In other business, Commissioners:
- Heard summaries of bills filed for the current session of the Oklahoma Legislature that could directly or indirectly affect Wildlife Department operations.
- Approved, with one abstention, a statement defining the Commission’s position on legislation introduced in the current session of the Oklahoma Legislature. Commission Chairman John Groendyke said the position statement was issued in the spirit of inviting cooperation with lawmakers.
- Heard Director J.D. Strong’s regular report on various division activities in the Department, including a reminder that the annual March Rack Madness public antler-scoring event is scheduled for March 5 at Department headquarters in Oklahoma City.
The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission is the eight-member governing board of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation. The Commission establishes state hunting and fishing regulations, sets policy for the Wildlife Department and indirectly oversees all state fish and wildlife conservation activities. Commission members are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Oklahoma Senate.
The next scheduled Commission meeting will be 9 a.m. Monday, March 25, 2019, at the Department headquarters, 1801 N. Lincoln, Oklahoma City.