Natural Resources Board approves 2014 migratory bird hunting seasons
Waterfowl hunting season structure for 2014, recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, was approved today by The Natural Resources Board.
In 2014, Wisconsin will be divided into three duck hunting zones, each with 60-day seasons. There will be split seasons in the Southern and Mississippi River duck and goose zones.
Waterfowl breeding populations in 2014 are mostly good to excellent in Wisconsin and North America, according to recent surveys by state, federal and Canadian wildlife officials. A recent United States Fish and Wildlife Service survey showed the highest North American duck population estimate in the survey’s 59-year history.
“With strong total duck populations and good water conditions, Wisconsin waterfowl hunters can expect a good season,” said DNR waterfowl ecologist Kent Van Horn.
Changes as a result of NRB approval include an expansion of the Horicon Zone Canada goose season harvest limit (from six birds to 12) and a reduction in the daily bag limit for canvasbacks (from two birds to one).
“I would like to thank all the folks who took the time to get involved, attend public meetings and participate in the regulatory process,” said Van Horn. “As always, we heard from hunters with a range of desires and practices. The final season dates represent a compromise among diverse hunter preferences. Waterfowl hunting is a blend of traditions, friendships and memorable days on the marsh – we wish you a successful hunt and leave you with a reminder to be safe. As always, hunters who take the time to scout preseason are going to be the ones with the best chance of success on opening day.”
The 2014 youth waterfowl hunt will be held Sept. 20-21.
The daily bag limit statewide will be six ducks, including no more than:
· four mallards, of which only one may be a hen;
· one black duck;
· one canvasback;
· three wood ducks;
· two pintails;
· three scaup; and
· two redheads.
For species of duck not listed, such as teal and ring-necks, the combined bag total with all other species may not exceed six ducks. It is important to note that possession limits have been increased to three times the daily bag limit.
“Overall, the status of duck and goose populations in 2014 is promising,” said Van Horn. “Water conditions across major North American duck breeding areas were mostly good to excellent, and continental duck numbers remain above or near the long-term averages. This is good news and means another liberal 60-day duck season will be offered in 2014.”
In 2014, duck hunting season structure is as follows:
· Northern Zone – Sept. 27 to Nov. 25;
· Southern Zone – Oct. 4 to Oct 12 and Oct 18. to Dec 7; and
· Mississippi River Zone – Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 and Oct. 18 to Dec 7.
Opening day shooting hours for duck season will begin at 9 a.m.
The Horicon goose hunting zone has been reduced in size, with areas north of Hwy 23 and west of Hwy 73 now included within the Exterior Zone. Horicon Zone goose hunters will be required to slit or punch their goose permit and report their harvest using 1-800-99-GOOSE (46673) within 48 hours of harvest. This is similar to the process for the Exterior Zone and early goose season.
In 2014, season structure for Canada goose hunting is as follows:
· Early September Canada goose season – Sept. 1-15, with a daily bag limit of five geese;
· Northern Exterior Zone – Sept. 16 to Dec 16, with a daily bag limit of two geese;
· Southern Exterior Zone –Sept 16 to Oct. 12 and Oct. 18 to Dec. 21, with a daily bag limit of two geese;
· Mississippi River Subzone – Sept. 27 to Oct. 5 and Oct. 18 to Jan. 8, with a daily bag limit of two geese;
· Horicon Zone period 1 – Sept. 16 to Nov. 2, with a daily bag limit of two geese and total season harvest limit of 12 geese; and
· Horicon Zone period 2 – Nov. 3 to Dec. 16, with a daily bag limit of two geese and total season harvest limit of 12 geese.
The department will offer an early teal-only duck hunting season in 2014 that will begin in September. Hunters will not be required to purchase any additional licenses or permits, other than those required for hunting ducks in the regular waterfowl season.
The framework established by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service requires an early teal season to be scheduled in September prior to Wisconsin’s regular duck season. Only teal species may be harvested during this period.
While the early teal season is offered statewide, there are some state owned properties that have special limitations in regards to waterfowl hunting. For example, Mead Wildlife Area does not allow waterfowl hunting prior to the regular season, and Lake Mills Wildlife Area (Zeloski Marsh) has shooting hour restrictions. Please check to see if the areas you hunt have any additional requirements or limitations.
The department will be required to monitor and report hunter performance throughout the experimental three-year period – this will help determine the success of an early teal season.
In addition, 20 days will be added to the end of the current 70-day dove hunting season.
To help hunters understand new seasons and regulations in 2014, the department will host an online waterfowl season chat Aug. 27 at noon. Wildlife and regulations experts will be on hand to answer any questions related to 2014 waterfowl hunting seasons. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “chat.”
For more information regarding the early teal season, a new duck identification tool, and the 2014 migratory game bird season structure, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “waterfowl.”
For more information, contact: Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841