DEEP: Migratory Bird Hunting Season Dates Set

August 14, 2006

Migratory Bird Hunting Season Dates Set

The Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the dates for the 2006-2007 migratory bird hunting seasons, which include seasons for hunting ducks, geese, woodcock, snipe, and rails. Specific details on season dates, bag limits, regulations, and other reminders are published in the 2006-2007 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide, which will be available from DEP and town clerk offices by early September. The guide also may be found on the DEP’s website: www.ct.gov/dep.

September Canada Goose Season

The special September Canada goose season will be held in the North Zone (portion of the state north of Interstate 95) from September 5 to September 30, 2006. The South Zone (portion of the state south of Interstate 95) season will run from September 15 to September 30, 2006. In a change from last year, the daily bag limit has been increased to 15 geese.

The September goose season provides the opportunity to harvest resident Canada geese that breed and spend the majority of their lives in Connecticut. The season is timed such that most migrant geese have not yet entered the state. Connecticut’s growing resident goose population continues to cause substantial nuisance problems. The September season affords the opportunity for harvest of these birds.

"While the September goose season helps address a growing management need, hunters should recognize that some citizens will not be aware of the early season. The DEP urges hunters to be judicious in selecting hunting sites and to be respectful to others who will be outdoors during this season," said Dale W. May, Director of the DEP Wildlife Division.

Ducks, Mergansers, and Coots

One change to the duck bag for 2006-07 is an increase in the hooded merganser bag limit from 1 to 2. Hooded merganser populations continue to grow and increasing the bag limit will provide more opportunity to harvest the most desired of the merganser species, while not negatively impacting populations. In 2005, mergansers were included in the total duck bag and that change remains in effect for the 2006-2007 season. By including mergansers, it is hoped that harvest pressure will ease on species, such as scaup, that don’t seem to be able to sustain the harvest intensity that mallards can. The scaup bag limit remains at 2, the same as last year. The breeding population estimate for scaup in 2006 was the lowest ever recorded, and hunting season restrictions are likely in store for the 2007-08 season.

The North Zone early duck season opens October 18 and runs through October 28, 2006. The South Zone early season opens October 18 and runs through October 25, 2006. The late North Zone season will be November 17, 2006, through January 13, 2007. The late South Zone season will be November 21, 2006, through January 20, 2007.

The sea duck season in the sea duck zone (coastal areas and streams seaward of the first upstream bridge) has been set for September 20, 2006 to January 20, 2007. Due to continued concern over the status of sea duck populations and increasing hunting pressure, the total sea duck bag limit remains at 5.

Legal shooting hours for all waterfowl hunting are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Regular and Late Canada Goose Seasons

In 2002-2003, the existing North Atlantic Population (NAP) hunt zone was split into two zones, the NAP L-Unit and the NAP H-Unit. These zones were created to exert more harvest pressure on resident geese in those areas where there continues to be persistent nuisance problems. These zones will continue in 2006-2007. The two zones are defined as:

NAP L-Unit—is that portion of Fairfield County north of Interstate 95 and that portion of New Haven County, starting at I-95 bridge on Housatonic River; north of Interstate 95; west of Route 10 to the intersection of Interstate 691; west along Interstate 691 to Interstate 84; west and south on Interstate 84 to Route 67; north along Route 67 to the Litchfield County line, then extending west along the Litchfield County line to the Shepaug River, then south to the intersection of the Litchfield and Fairfield County lines.

NAP H-Unit--is the rest of the existing NAP hunt zone (Fairfield County south of I-95, the rest of New Haven County not included in the NAP L-Unit, that portion of Hartford County not in the AP zone, Middlesex, New London, Windham, and Tolland Counties).

In the NAP L-Unit, the regular goose season will run from October 2 to October 31, 2006, and then from November 23, 2006, to January 12, 2007. The daily bag limit will be 3 geese. In the

NAP H-Unit, the regular goose season will run, in both the North and South Zones, from October 2 to October 19, 2006, and then from November 23, 2006, to January 12, 2007. The daily bag limit will be 2 geese in the NAP H-Unit.

AP Unit--The Atlantic Population (AP) Unit includes Litchfield County and Hartford County west of the Connecticut River. The season in the AP Unit will remain at 45 days, running from October 28 to November 3, 2006, and then from November 18, 2006, to January 2, 2007. The daily bag limit will be 3 geese. The Atlantic Population of Canada geese continues to recover. Breeding pair estimates were 160,000. Production for the AP looks to be very good in 2006, and a fall flight in excess of one million birds is expected.

Sportsmen also will have the opportunity to harvest resident Canada geese during the special late season (in the South Zone only) from January 15 through February 15, 2007. The bag limit during the late season is 5 geese, and no special permit is required for this season.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Training Days

Connecticut will hold two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Training Days, on Saturday, October 7, 2006, and Monday, October 9, 2006. Participants must be 15 years of age or younger, possess a valid junior small game hunting license and a HIP permit, and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age. Adults must possess a valid hunting license; however, they are not allowed to hunt waterfowl. Ducks, geese, mergansers, and coots may be hunted. Bag limits and shooting hours are the same as for the regular duck and goose hunting seasons.

Woodcock, Snipe, and Rail Seasons

The opening day for woodcock and snipe hunting will be October 19 and the season will run until November 18, 2006. The rail season will be from September 5 to November 11, 2006. Bag limits for the 2006 season are identical to last year.

A Few Reminders

All waterfowl hunters are reminded that, in addition to obtaining a hunting license, they are required to obtain an annual Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit. Waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older also are required to purchase a federal Duck Stamp and a Connecticut Duck Stamp. Federal Duck Stamps are available from local post offices for $15.00. State Duck Stamps ($10.00) and HIP permits ($2.00) can be purchased at all Connecticut town clerks’ offices. A HIP permit also is required to hunt woodcock, snipe, coot, and rails. Hunters are reminded to please report waterfowl bands. Band return information provides vital information for the continued sound management of the waterfowl resource.