As Mississippi's 2010-11 waterfowl season kicks off, hunters, landowners, and farmers are reminded to become familiar with existing federal baiting regulations before hunting migratory birds. Along with setting season frameworks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) maintains the authority to enforce baiting regulations.
The USFWS and MDWFP would like to remind hunters and farmers it is legal to take waterfowl over unharvested standing crops, flooded standing crops or croplands where seeds or grain have been scattered solely as the result of normal agriculture planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or normal soil stabilization practices.
According to USFWS, hunters and farmers should understand that shredding and plowing damaged croplands is not considered harvesting. Those croplands where seed or grain is present may be considered a baited area until all the seed or grain is gone for 10 days. It is illegal to take migratory game birds by the aid of bait or over a baited area where a person knows, or reasonably should know, the area is baited.
Agricultural crops that are damaged in any way (for example, by disease) cannot be manipulated (mowed or disked) if you intend to hunt waterfowl. Manipulating these crops instead of allowing them to stand could be defined as manipulation of crops when waterfowl hunting.
“If a farmer bush hogs a corn field because it can’t be harvested, that may create an illegal attractant,” said James Gale, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Southeast Region. “If you bait, or direct that an area be baited, and allow waterfowl hunting to proceed, you risk being charged with an offense that carries significant penalties. We want to avoid that circumstance by ensuring the public understands the regulations.”
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides examples to help hunters and farmers at: http://www.fws.gov/le/HuntFish/waterfowl_baiting.htm Anyone planning to hunt waterfowl needs to review all of the 50 U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 20 definitions, paying close attention to 50 CFR 20.21(i) and 50 CFR 20.21(h)(2). This information can be accessed online at: http://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/50_CFR_20.pdf
For more information about waterfowl hunting in Mississippi, visit the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks’ website at: http://www.mdwfp.com/waterfowl