Date: 10/10/18 8:01 am
From: bob augustine <augustinebob8...>
Subject: [MDBirding] Ducks in Danger
Last winter I was at Violette's Lock when I noticed duck decoys near the Maryland shore upstream, about halfway to Riley's Lock. Looking further right, I detected a well-concealed blind with a duck hunter in it. I thought, "It can't be legal to hunt from the park!" I photographed the blind and the license plates of the 2 other cars in the parking lot. Then I went to Riley's where there was only one car and photographed its license plate also.

Later, I ran into a park ranger. He told me the duck hunters had discovered a "loophole". It seems the Potomac River is Maryland state property where hunting is legal right up to the shoreline. So the hunters place their blinds an inch offshore. I had heard shots farther up the river too--near the turning basin.

We all know how much ducks love this stretch of the river. At least 25 species of ducks are regularly seen there as well as geese, swans, loons, grebes, and coots. It would be a shame if we allow duck hunters to scare them all away.

Duck hunters depend on concealment to succeed. If I see this again, I will stand on land nearby and make a fuss to warn the ducks. Others could position canoes, kayaks, or rowboats to foil the hunters. Brightly colored wooden blocks could be drifted into the decoys or perhaps radio-controlled toy boats. Loud music from a boombox might help.

Last spring I encountered a team at Riley's evaluating the effects of a large visible orange balloon near River Road on the golf course simulating a cellphone tower on the enjoyment of the park by its patrons. If the County is concerned about a cell tower a mile away, how about hunters along the shore?

If you have other ideas, I urge you to share them here. It is essential that action be taken in a timely manner as duck hunting season in Maryland begins Oct. 13, this Sat., extending through Oct. 20 and also Nov.10-23 and Dec.11-Jan. 26.

Bob Augustine
10 Oct. 2018

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