The 2 waterfowl biologists in the Department's Wildlife Division are active members of the Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Section (MFCTS). The MFCTS consists of biologists from 14 states, roughly aligned between the Mississippi River drainage and the Appalachian Mountains, and the 3 Canadian provinces that make up the Mississippi Flyway. Along with biologists from federal agencies from the U.S. and Canada plus private conservation groups such as Ducks Unlimited, the MFCTS is the science and technology arm of the Mississippi Flyway Council. Their role is to gather scientific data to provide the biological foundation to be strongly considered in waterfowl-management decisions made by members of the Council, who are usually high-ranking employees of participating agencies and organizations. No doubt, the most anticipated actions the Flyway Council takes is the setting of waterfowl hunting regulations.
Unlike for resident game animals, annual migratory waterfowl hunting regulations must be coordinated through this multi-agency international organization adding complexity to the season setting process. Hunting regulations can vary annually based largely on wetland habitat conditions in northern breeding sites and the success of nesting efforts. The Technical Section analyzes the status of waterfowl and recommends annual hunting regulations to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Once hunting season packages are approved by the USFWS, Waterfowl Program biologists present Department recommendations to the Commission, hunting club groups and the media.
In addition to hunting regulations, the Section also coordinates and participates in flyway wide cooperative migratory waterfowl/wetlands research and management efforts. The goose neck collar program previously mentioned is an example of such a flyway project. The Waterfowl Program is responsible for preparing technical reports and publications on MFCTS activities and chairs several sub-committees within the MFCTS. Through the association with the MFCTS, one of the Program's biologists has been the Flyway's Representative on the Arctic Goose Joint Venture. This group consists of one representative from each of the 4 Flyways, federal U.S. and Canadians employees and provincial biologists. This Joint Venture primarily recommends and prioritizes goose research projects and coordination efforts associated with the current snow goose over- population crisis.