Missouri BHA Applauds MDC Changes to Waterfowl Blind Regulations on Public Land

The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) will be voting to change waterfowl hunting regulations for the restricted portion of the Upper Mississippi Conservation Area (UMCA) starting in the 2026 hunting season. 

Previously, waterfowl hunting sites were awarded every two years in the UMCA through a random electronic drawing. Winners drawn could construct permanent blinds in "their spot" and hold that location as their own. If winners were not hunting those locations on a given day, the public would be allowed to use those constructed blinds. This led to arguments over permissions and who was allowed to use those blinds. Under new regulations, this process will discontinue the draw system and transition to open pool hunting only, making hunting on the UMCA consistent with other waterfowl hunting opportunities on rivers and lakes in Missouri. the draw system will continue through the 2024 waterfowl hunting season, with the final draw occurring in July of 2024. 

The Upper Mississippi Conservation Area includes Pools 24, 25, and 26 along the Mississippi River north of St. Louis. These federal lands consist of 87 separate tracts totaling 12,500 acres managed under a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the USACOE. According to MDC, when the UMCA blind drawing system began in the 1950s, the number of staked locations on which blinds can be built has decreased, and only 1/3 to 1/2 of those remaining sites are typically utilized for building permanent blinds.

The Missouri Chapter of BHA fully supports the proposed changes to waterfowl hunting at the Upper Mississippi River Conservation Area (UMCA). While the change will impact a small group of hunters who use the area, the overall gain to public access for all waterfowl hunters is an overwhelming net positive and will increase access and opportunity, simplify regulations, and offer more flexibility for waterfowl hunters in the UMCA.

These changes will also encourage better stewardship of the land and reduces the potential of trash/debris from being left on public land from careless users or from incidental weather-related damages such as flooding, storms, etc.

We thank MDC for making the tough decision to change the regulations at UMCA and are excited about the increased access and opportunities that will come with the change.

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