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July 19, 2011

Hearings will also address possible changes to our duck hunting zones

MADISON - Waterfowl hunters are reminded of upcoming public meetings and hearings on the 2011 duck and Canada goose hunting seasons. Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff will provide the latest information on the status of waterfowl and waterfowl management decisions in Wisconsin.

State waterfowl hunting seasons are structured within an annual framework set by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. With the overall picture on the 2011 waterfowl breeding populations looking very promising, hunters can expect a liberal season framework in 2011, according to Kent Van Horn, state Migratory Game Bird Ecologist.

Across the traditional survey area of the Dakotas, Canada and Alaska, total duck numbers were estimated at more than 45 million prior to breeding, which is a record high and 35 percent above the long-term average.

Canada goose breeding conditions in northern Ontario, where about 50 percent of the Wisconsin harvest originates, were average. However, breeding bird counts were still relatively low in 2011 due to several previous years of poor production. In Wisconsin the resident Canada goose breeding population estimate was up 12 percent at 176,095 geese, so Van Horn says hunters can still expect an abundant goose population this fall.

Seasons to be set by Natural Resources Board, Aug 10

The Natural Resources Board will set the 2011 season structure at its Aug. 10 meeting in Spring Green. At this time, the federal season framework has not been announced, but with excellent wetland conditions and record high continental duck numbers, waterfowl hunters will likely be seeing a liberal 60-day duck season with bag limits similar to 2010. The proposed season framework should be available on the DNR website on August 1.

Comments also sought on duck zone change proposals

"2011 is a very important year because we will be deciding the configuration of new duck hunting zones that will remain for the next five years," Van Horn says.

There are currently four options out for pubic comment: the current two zone structure; a three zone structure with the Mississippi River as the third zone with a split in the season; a three-zone structure with Lake Michigan as the third zone and a split season structure; or four zones without season splits. A split means there would be two separate hunting periods with a break in between.

"We need to hear from duck hunters at these meetings as to what their preference for duck hunting zones and season dates," Van Horn says. "Although the Fish and Wildlife Service may delay these potential changes until 2012, we are continuing to request public input on this topic. We expect final word from the Service on July 29."

Citizens can attend one of several public hearings or submit comments through midnight on Aug. 4 to James Christopoulos, assistant migratory ecologist, PO Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921; by phone at (608) 261-6458 or email to More information can be found on the waterfowl in Wisconsin page of the DNR website.

Post-Flyway Meetings

Public Hearing Locations

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

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 19, 2011

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