Date of this Version
Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos) are the most preferred species in the Central Flyway. About 40 percent of all ducks harvested there between 1971 and 1980 were mallards (Carney et al. 1983). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has tried to maintain a spring breeding population of about 9 million mallards, although the estimate for 1985 was 5.5 million birds. In an attempt to alleviate the pressure on this popular species, the point system was raised and the hunting season shortened. The point value for the drake was increased to 35, while the hen went to 100 points. Under conventional bag limits, this changed the take allowed from two hens to one. The Central Flyway Council estimates that this point value change alone may produce a 12 to 15 percent decrease in hen harvest.
Although the increase in the point value should encourage proper field identification, it may also lead to attempts by hunters to disguise illegal birds. Nebraska regulations (001.02A7) require that the head or a fully feathered wing remain attached to waterfowl during transportation. On arrival home, though, these parts may legally be removed, making conventional identification techniques impractical (Baldwin et al. 1931, Carney 1964, Central Flyway Council 1974, Haines 1978, and LeMaster 1983). Consequently, a simple method of sexing dressed or breasted birds could be useful for law enforcement personnel.