NRB approves 2018 migratory bird hunting season format

MADISON, WI - As a result of great scientific information and input from the public, migratory game bird hunters in Wisconsin pursuing ducks, geese, doves, woodcock and other migratory game birds will see some notable changes in 2018.
The final season framework was approved by the state Natural Resources Board at its April 11, meeting in Madison.
“These season frameworks were based on input we received from the public, input from conservation and hunting groups, and results from a waterfowl hunter survey,” said Taylor Finger, Department of Natural Resources migratory bird ecologist. “We expanded our outreach efforts in 2018 using social media to increase our engagement with our users, and we saw attendance at statewide public hearings double the and a nearly 400 percent increase in total comments received regarding the 2018 waterfowl season proposals.”
Finger notes the waterfowl season structure process is a perfect example of the important role the public can play in decision making, and thanks all those who submitted a comment or attended a meeting.
The first of the 2018 migratory game bird seasons will open with the early Canada goose, mourning dove and early teal seasons starting on Sept. 1. Regular waterfowl hunting seasons will include a 60-day duck season which will start with a statewide opener on Sept. 29, and 92-day regular goose season which will have two splits to allow hunting during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Highlights from the approved season structure include:
* North duck zone will open one week later than in previous years, resulting in a single statewide opener for the North, South and Mississippi zones on Sept. 29.
* Elimination of the Horicon Canada goose Management Zone (resulting in a single statewide regular goose zone).
* Increase in the daily Canada goose bag limit to three birds per day.
* A second split in the South Canada goose zone resulting in a goose season that is open during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
* And increase in the pintail daily bag limit (from one to two) based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service season framework.
As a reminder to Canada goose hunters, registration of Canada geese and in-field validation of the Canada goose hunting permit is no longer required.

Early season dates are:
* Early Teal - Sept. 1-7 (6 birds per day, Sunrise – Sunset Shooting Hours).
* Early Goose - Sept. 1-15 (5 birds per day).
* Mourning Dove - Sept. 1 to Nov. 29 (15 birds per day).
* Woodcock - Sept. 22 to Nov. 5 (3 birds per day).

Duck season dates and bag limits are:
* Opening day shooting hours would begin one-half hour before sunrise for all regular waterfowl hunting seasons.
* Youth Hunt - Sept. 15-16.
* North Zone - Sept. 29 to Nov. 27.
* South Zone - Sept. 29 to Oct. 7, and Oct. 13 to Dec. 2 (five-day split).
* Mississippi Zone - Sept. 29 to Oct. 5, and Oct. 13 to Dec. 4 (seven-day split, closed Oct. 6-12).
 
The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than:
* Four mallards, of which only one may be a hen.
* One black duck.
* Two canvasbacks.
* Three wood ducks.
* Two pintails.
* Three scaup.
* Two redheads.
* Five mergansers can be harvested daily, of which no more than two may be hooded.
 
Regular goose season dates
With the elimination of the Horicon Canada goose management zone, the state is now a single statewide Exterior goose hunting zone for the regular season. The Mississippi River is a sub-zone within the Exterior Zone.
For Canada goose hunters that have already purchased a Horicon Canada goose permit, your permit will still function as your regular Canada goose season authorization and does not require that you re-purchase an Exterior Zone goose permit.
 
Another change was made to the daily bag limits which increased from two geese per day to three geese per day during the regular Canada goose hunting season.
The Natural Resources Board also approved the incorporation of a second split in the Southern Zone regular Canada Goose season which would close the season down with the South Zone duck season and reopen again on Dec. 16, and run through the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
* Exterior Zone (92 days total).
* North - Sept. 16 to Dec. 16.
* South - Sept. 16 to Oct. 7 (5-day Split) and Oct. 13 to Dec. 2 (13-day split) and Dec. 16 – Jan. 3, 2019.
* Mississippi - Sept. 29 to Oct. 5 and Oct. 13 to Jan. 3.
For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "waterfowl."

SOURCE: Wisconsin DNR