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September 14, 2010

MADISON - Hunters looking forward to the opening of Wisconsin's 2010 duck season in the northern duck zone on Sept. 25 should find good numbers of ducks, according to state wildlife officials.

"Wisconsin waterfowlers should have a good hunting season," said Kent Van Horn, migratory game bird ecologist for the state Department of Natural Resources. "Overall, continental populations of waterfowl game species are healthy and abundant."

Many of the ducks harvested in Wisconsin come from birds that breed in the state's wetlands. The four most abundant ducks in Wisconsin's fall hunting harvest are mallards, wood ducks, green-winged teal and blue-winged teal, Van Horn said.

The duck hunt in the northern zone opens at 9 a.m. Sept. 25 and continues through Nov. 23. Other than on opening day, the hunt begins a half hour before sunrise. The southern zone duck season opens at 9 a.m. on Oct. 2, with a split season that runs through Oct. 10 and then closes and reopens Oct. 16 through Dec. 16.

The daily bag limit is six ducks in total, not to include more than four mallards of which only one may be a hen, three wood ducks, one black duck, two redheads, two scaup, two pintail, and one canvasback. The daily bag limit for mergansers is five to include no more than two hooded mergansers. The daily bag limit for coot is 15.

"Trying to predict how weather patterns will affect hunting is a tricky business," says Van Horn. "Habitat conditions at the time of breeding were dry this year, but later rains made for excellent brood rearing habitat, and should positively impact hunting conditions during the season.

"As always, hunters who do the early legwork - scouting for good wetland conditions and observing what areas birds are using -- will be the ones having a good hunt. Hunter survey data in Wisconsin show that duck hunters who scout before their hunting trip harvest 2.3 times more ducks than those hunters who do not scout."

Licenses and stamps required include a Wisconsin small game license, a Wisconsin waterfowl stamp and a federal migratory bird stamp. The $15 federal stamp can be purchased at a U.S. Post Office. Hunters will also have the option of purchasing the federal stamp privilege at license vendors for a $2.50 surcharge. The purchase will be noted on their license. The stamp itself will arrive weeks later in the mail. State licenses, permits, and stamps are also available through Wisconsin's Online Licensing Center.

Waterfowl and other migratory bird hunters must also register each year with the federal Harvest Information Program (HIP) which places them on a list of hunters that may receive a mailing asking them to provide a summary of their waterfowl harvest. HIP registration is free and should occur at the time hunters purchases their licenses or state waterfowl stamps.

Bag checks will be performed at select hunting locations in the state again this fall. Avian influenza testing will also occur at these sites.

Additional information is available on the Waterfowl in Wisconsin pages of the DNR website.

Woodcock season also opens Sept. 25

Wisconsin's woodcock hunting season also opens one half hour before sunrise on Sept. 25 and runs through Nov. 8.

The Badger State ranks second in the nation for woodcock hunters, with more than 14,000 licensed, and second in the nation for woodcock harvest at about 36,000 birds. Overall, hunters should expect to see woodcock numbers similar to the last few years and depending on the weather, should enjoy a good fall.

Over the last 30-plus years, the woodcock population across its range in the Midwest and northeast U.S. has shown a steady decline which biologists believe is primarily related to changes in forest habitat. However, Van Horn says, in Wisconsin, this decline appears to have leveled off with no significant change over the last decade. In Wisconsin, woodcock hunting interest remains high.

Since woodcock are a migratory species, hunters should remember that if they wish to hunt woodcock they must not use a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells unless the magazine has been plugged. This also means they need to be registered for the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Many hunters hunt ruffed grouse and woodcock at the same time and the federal requirements for HIP registration and hunting with a shotgun limited to holding 3threeshells are not required for ruffed grouse. However, these regulations must be followed if hunting both species at the same time.

The daily woodcock bag limit is three birds. Detailed woodcock hunting regulations can be found in the Small Game Hunting Regulations.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn - (608) 266-8841 or James Christopoulos - (608) 261-6458

Last Revised: Tuesday, September 14, 2010

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