In its monthly meeting Thursday in Little Rock the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission approved the early migratory bird seasons and looked over proposals from biologists for the 2010-11 duck seasons and other migratory birds. The commission will decide on one of three options for a 60-day duck season at its August meeting.

AGFC Wildlife Assistant Chief Ricky Chastain said habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl this spring were similar to 2009 in much of the U.S. and Canada. “The Canadian prairie ponds were up 5 percent from 2009 and 9 percent above the long-term average,” Chastain explained. “Total duck abundance is estimated at almost 41 million – a 3 percent decrease from 2009 but 21 percent above the long-term average,” he added.

Based on this year’s survey results of 8.6 million mid-continent mallards and 3.7 million ponds in Prairie Canada, Chastain said the prescribed regulatory option for the Mississippi Flyway is the liberal package. “We’ve already been advised from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that we’ll have a 60-day season,” he said.

Duck season options:

Option 1: Nov. 20 (Saturday) – Nov. 28 (Sunday); Dec. 9 (Thursday) – Dec. 23 (Thursday); Dec. 26 (Sunday) – Jan. 30 (Sunday).

Option 2: Nov. 25 (Thurs) – Dec. 5 (Sunday); Dec. 11 (Saturday) – Dec. 23 (Thursday); Dec. 26 (Sunday) – Jan. 30 (Sunday).

Option 3: Nov. 20 (Saturday) – Nov. 28 (Sunday); Dec. 7 (Tuesday) – Jan. 17 (Monday); Jan. 22 (Saturday) – Jan. 30 (Sunday).

Youth Waterfowl Hunt: Dec. 4-5 or Feb. 6-7

The commission approved these dates for early season waterfowl:

Early Migratory Seasons

Mourning Dove and Eurasian Collared Dove: Sept. 4-Oct. 19 and Dec. 11-Jan. 5, 2011.

Teal: Sept. 11-26.

Rail: Sept. 11-Nov. 19.

Woodcock: Nov. 6–Dec. 20.

Common Snipe: Nov. 1–Feb. 15.

Purple Gallinule: Sept. 1–Nov. 9.

Common Moorhen: Sept. 1–Nov. 9.

Early Canada Goose Statewide: Sept. 1–15.

Northwest Canada Goose: Sept. 25–Oct. 4.

In other business, the commission:

* Approved an agreement between the AGFC and Central Arkansas Water for a one year license agreement for management and regulation of fish and wildlife on the new Maumelle River WMA.

* Approved the purchase of nine acres along Crooked Creek in Marion County. The cost of the property is $12,000.

* Recognized several AGFC wildlife officers for their efforts in saving lives and for the difficult task they performed during this year’s deadly flood at the Albert Pike Campground.

* Honored three individuals with the Campbell Award. The Campbell Award is a $5,000 payment presented to the three Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Employees of the Year. The Campbell Award originated with Arkansas Game and Fish Commissioner Craig Campbell to honor his grandfather, a former AGFC commissioner, and his father, a great outdoorsman. The award will be funded through a trust and will be bestowed annually. The three employees were: Greg Rae, Amanda Riggs and Craig Uyeda.

*Approved the first reading of the proposed fishing regulations for 2011.