September 22, 2015
MADISON -- One-half hour before sunrise on Saturday, Oct. 3, duck hunters in the Southern and Mississippi River Zones will be in the field a bit earlier than usual for another fall duck hunt. New in 2015, opening day shooting hours will now begin one-half hour before sunrise (previously 9 a.m.) -- this change is a result of a shift in public desires.
"With good spring breeding counts and improving water levels, Wisconsin waterfowl hunters could have potential for a good hunting season," said Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources migratory game bird ecologist Kent Van Horn.
The Southern Zone will run from Oct. 3-11, close for a 5-day split, then remain open from Oct. 17 to Dec. 6. The Mississippi Zone will be open Oct. 3-9, close for a 7-day split, and reopen from Oct. 17 to Dec. 8.
Waterfowl hunters should note that the goose season in the southern portion of the Exterior Zone will also be closed during the 5-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. 3 and is closed during the 7-day split in the Mississippi River Zone.
"Continental breeding surveys that have been ongoing for 60 years reported record high numbers of ducks this spring. However, even with promising breeding indications, local conditions and scouting will be the most important factors when pursuing ducks this fall. Because some areas of the state remain very dry, scouting this fall will be particularly important to identify the areas that are holding water and 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. For 2015, the possession limit has been increased to three times the daily bag limit.
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 through Wisconsin's Online Licensing Center.
For more information regarding waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "waterfowl."
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. Wild birds from targeted areas throughout the state will be sampled between now and spring 2016.
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."
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Kent Van Horn, DNR migratory game bird ecologist, 608-266-8841