Contact(s): Taylor Finger, DNR assistant migratory game bird ecologist, 608-261-6458
MADISON - Duck hunters in the Southern and Mississippi River zones can expect wetter conditions than usual when these seasons open one-half hour before sunrise on Saturday, Oct. 1.
"Good spring breeding counts and higher water levels have created the potential for good waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin," said Taylor Finger, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources assistant migratory game bird ecologist.
The Southern Zone will run from Oct. 1-9, close for a five-day split, and remain open from Oct. 15 to Dec. 4. The Mississippi Zone will be open Oct. 1-7, close for a seven-day split, and re-open from Oct. 15 to Dec. 6. Opening day shooting hours will begin one-half hour before sunrise.
Waterfowl hunters should note that the goose season in the southern portion of the Exterior Zone will also be closed during the five-day split in October, while hunting in the Horicon Zone will not be affected. Also, hunters should note that goose season in the Mississippi River Sub-zone will not open until Oct. 1 and is closed during the seven-day split in the Mississippi River Zone.
"Continental breeding surveys that have been ongoing for 61 years reported record high or near record high duck numbers this spring. However, even with promising breeding indications, local conditions and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall," said Finger. "Since Wisconsin has experienced extremely wet conditions leading up to the duck season, scouting this fall will be particularly important to identify areas that are holding birds."
The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than:
Five mergansers may be harvested daily, of which no more than two may be hooded mergansers; 15 coot may be harvested daily.
Licenses and stamps required for duck hunting include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp, and a federal migratory bird stamp. The federal duck stamp will now cost $25 (an increase from $15 dollars) - a change suggested and supported by waterfowl hunters nationwide. There has not been an increase in the federal waterfowl stamp since the 1990s - a $10 increase will help protect additional upland and wetland waterfowl habitat. The federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at DNR license vendors for an additional $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license, but the stamp itself will arrive weeks later in the mail.
Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program, which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their harvest. HIP registration is free and can be done at the time hunters purchase their licenses, but can always be added later on if a hunter decides they may pursue migratory game birds.
State licenses and stamps, permits, and HIP registration are also available online through Go Wild.
For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, and search keyword "waterfowl."
With the Exterior goose season opening in the Mississippi River Zone on Oct. 1, there have been some important changes concerning the transition to Go Wild. The Canada goose harvest registration phone number is now consistent with all other species registered in Wisconsin -- this new system also provides for online registration. Hunters can now register online at gamereg.wi.gov or via phone at 844-426-3734 (844 GAME-REG).
In addition, Early, Exterior and Horicon Zone goose permits are now printed on regular white paper, rather than green thermal paper. While afield, hunters must carry their Canada goose harvest permit -- department staff encourage hunters to carry these permits in a plastic bag to shield it from any adverse weather conditions.
For more information regarding Go Wild, visit gowild.wi.gov [EXIT DNR].
Many fall hunting and trapping seasons in Wisconsin are just around the corner, and the 2016 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast [PDF] is now available.
Several federal agencies are working in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to collect samples related to the research and surveillance of avian influenza in wild birds. This surveillance will help monitor for the virus during fall migration.
Avian influenza is a viral disease common in wild bird populations with many different subtypes - most do not cause obvious signs of disease in wild birds or have the ability to infect animals other than birds. While strains currently detected in the U.S. have caused mortality of domestic birds, they have not resulted in any illness in humans.
Samples will be collected from live-captured birds during DNR banding efforts and from hunter-harvested dabbling ducks, such as blue-winged teal, mallard, wood duck and Northern pintail. Federal staff will also be located at boat landings and other hunter access points this fall to sample ducks from willing hunters.
To learn more, search keywords "bird diseases."