Happy early season teal hunters on Champney Island.

The 2011-2012 Altamaha Wildlife Management Area waterfowl season has been the best on record since the early 1960s according to WRD Game Management Section.

The 32,000-acre Altamaha WMA is home to thousands of ducks, including black ducks, mallards, northern pintails, redheads and canvasbacks. More than 750 hunters harvested 1,669 ducks on the quota area, Butler Island.  Green-winged teal, blue-winged teal and ring-necked ducks were the most abundant of the 17 species harvested.  Many species were also harvested on Champney and Rhetts Islands too.

One possible factor attributing to the success of this waterfowl season could be the dry winter in Coastal Georgia, which may have pushed species out of the dry swamps and into the Altamaha impoundments and surrounding areas. Additional factors may include the positive population trends for most waterfowl species, and most importantly, the hard work and dedication of the Altamaha staff helped the WMA to have some of the best wintering ground habitat in its history.

As one of the most species rich management areas in the state, wildlife watching is another popular activity on this WMA. Visitors to the area may see such animals as deer, hogs, rabbits and squirrels.  Birding enthusiasts can see avian species like white ibis, wood storks, roseate spoonbills and bald eagles. The Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP) is aimed at maintaining the WMA for all users.  Visitors to Butler and Champney Islands and the McGowan Lake Tract of the Altamaha WMA will need either a Georgia Outdoor Recreational Pass (GORP) or WMA stamp. More information on GORP is available at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/Georgia-Outdoor-Recreational-Pass.

Upcoming Activities at Altamaha WMA: Hog hunts March 1-15 (underway) and May 19-June 3. Visit the Wildlife Resources Division Flickr page for more photos from the waterfowl season at Altamaha WMA.

Note: Special thanks to Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division Senior Wildlife Biologist Will Ricks for his contributions to this blog post.