DEEP: Migratory Bird Hunting Guide

2014-2015 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide
Bureau of Natural Resources
Wildlife Division

This guide provides a summary of the most pertinent laws and regulations concerning the hunting of migratory birds. No attempt has been made to employ the exact wording of laws and regulations, nor to provide their complete listing. For legal purposes, the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies and the General Statutes of Connecticut should be consulted.

A PDF version of the 2014-2015 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide is also available.

Table of Contents

{Black Duck}
2014-2015 MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING GUIDE
Open Waterfowl Seasons and Bag Limits


Changes from 2014 are highlighted in bold
(All Dates Inclusive - Except Sundays)
NORTH ZONE: The portion of the state north of Interstate 95
SOUTH ZONE: The portion of the state south of Interstate 95.
SHOOTING HOURS: One-half hour before sunrise to sunset, except for the September Goose Season, when shooting hours end one-half hour past sunset.

 
Species Season North
Zone
South
Zone
Daily Bag
Limit
Possession
Limit
Ducks, Mergansers
and Coots
Early
Oct 8-Oct 18
Oct 8-Oct 11
Ducks 6A,B
Coots 15
18A,B
45
Late
Nov 11-Jan 7
Nov 17-Jan 20
Sea DucksC
  (Scoter, Oldsquaw, Eider)
- -
Sep 22-Jan 20
5D 15D
Canada GeeseE
September

Sep 2-Sep 30

Sep 15-Sep 30
15 45
AP UnitF
See Map
Oct 14-Oct 18
Nov 17-Jan 7
--
3 9
AFRP UnitG
See Map
Oct 14-Oct 18
Nov 19-Nov 29
Dec 2-Feb 14
Oct 14-Oct 18
Nov 19-Nov 29
Dec 2-Feb 14
5 15
NAP-H UnitH
See Map
Oct 8-Oct 18
Nov 17-Jan 24
Oct 8-Oct 18
Nov 17-Jan 24
3 9
Late
Closed
Jan 26-Feb 14I
5 15
Snow Geese
 (includes Blue Geese)
Oct 1-Jan 15
Feb 21-Mar 10
Oct 1-Nov 29
Jan 7-Mar 10
25 no limit
Brant
Dec 4-Jan 7
Dec 17-Jan 20
2
6
 
A Includes all species of ducks, with the following restrictions: MALLARD: daily limit 4 and may include only 2 HENS. WOOD DUCK: daily limit 3. BLACK DUCK: daily limit 1. SCAUP: daily limit 2. REDHEAD: daily limit 2. PINTAIL: daily limit 2. CANVASBACK: daily limit 1. HOODED MERGANSER: daily limit 2. Possession limits are three times the daily bag limit. SEASON FOR HARLEQUIN DUCKS IS CLOSED.
B MERGANSERS AND SCAUP ARE INCLUDED IN THE TOTAL DUCK BAG OF 6.
C In coastal waters and streams seaward of the first upstream bridge.
D Daily bag limit for sea ducks may include no more than 4 SCOTERS, 4 OLDSQUAW, 12 in possession.
E Daily bag limit includes white-fronted geese.
F AP Unit: Litchfield Co. and the portion of Hartford Co., west of a line beginning at the Massachusetts border in Suffield and extending south along Route 159 to its intersection with Interstate 91 in Hartford, and then extending south along Interstate 91 to its intersection with the Hartford/Middlesex Co. line.
G AFRP Unit: Starting at the intersection of Interstate 95 and the Quinnipiac River, north on the Quinnipiac River to its intersection with Interstate 91, north on Interstate 91 to Interstate 691 to the Hartford County line, and encompassing the rest of New Haven County and Fairfield County in its entirety.
H NAP-H Unit: All of the rest of the State not included in the AP or AFRP descriptions above.
I That portion of the South Zone east of the Quinnipiac River.

Connecticut Migrant Goose Zones

{Map of Connecticut Goose Hunting Zones}

{Clapper Rail} 2014-2015 MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING GUIDE
Rail Seasons
Species Daily
Limit
Possession
Limit
Season Dates Shooting
Hours
Virginia & Sora 25 75

Sep 2 - Nov 10

1/2 hour before sunrise
until sunset

Clapper & King* 10 30
* Only 1 of the daily bag limit may be a king rail

{Woodcock}          2014-2015 MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING GUIDE
Woodcock and Snipe Seasons
Species Daily
Limit
Possession
Limit
Season Dates Shooting
Hours
Woodcock 3 9 Oct 22 - Nov 22 and
Nov 24 - Dec 6
1/2 hour before sunrise
until sunset
Snipe 8 24

New for 2014-2015
The canvasback bag limit will be reduced to 1 in 2014-2015.

The Canada goose season in the NAP H-Unit will be increased to 70 days with a 3-bird daily bag limit.

Special September and Late Canada Goose Seasons
The early season in the North Zone will run from September 2-30, 2014. In the South Zone, the season will run from September 15-30, 2014. The daily bag limit for the early season continues to be 15, with a possession limit of 45. Shooting hours for the September season are to one-half hour past sunset. Unplugged shotguns are legal to use during the September goose season.

The late season is from January 26 to February 14, 2015, in the South Zone South Zone only (south of Interstate 95 and east of the Quinnipiac River). No special permit is required for either season. All waterfowl hunters, however, are required to have a federal Duck Stamp, Connecticut Duck Stamp, and a HIP permit.

Wing Characteristics of Black Ducks and Black Duck/Mallard Hybrids
Black Duck Wing
Black feathers surrounding the blue speculum with no evidence of white above the speculum.
{Black Duck Wing}
Black Duck/Mallard Hybrid Wing
Black feathers surrounding the blue speculum with white above the speculum.
{Black Duck/Mallard Hybrid Wing}
Black Duck/Mallard Hybrid Wing
Black feathers surrounding the blue speculum with faint white above the speculum.
{Black Duck/Mallard Hybrid Wing}

Black Duck Harvest Information
The daily bag limit for black ducks is one. However, black duck/mallard hybrids do not count toward the black duck bag limit. Any hybrid counts towards the mallard daily bag limit. The best way to distinguish between black ducks and black duck/mallard hybrids is to look at the feathers above the wing speculum. Black ducks have no white coloration above the speculum.

For more information about the harvest and management of black ducks, read the Black Duck Management Strategy in North America (pdf) and the Black Duck Management Hunter Fact Sheet (pdf).

Youth Waterfowl Hunter Training Days
Connecticut will hold 2 statewide youth waterfowl hunter training days on Saturday, October 4, and Saturday, November 1, 2014. Participants must be 12 to 15 years of age, possess a valid small game junior 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 carry a firearm. 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.

Connecticut Duck Stamp
All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older are required to purchase and carry the current Connecticut Duck Stamp (also known as the Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp) – but conservationists, stamp collectors, and others also purchase stamps in support of wetland habitat conservation. Revenue from the sale of Connecticut Duck Stamps is a major source of funding for wetland restoration projects in our state. Since 1994, Connecticut Duck Stamp funds have been used to restore and enhance over 3,145 acres of wetlands, encompassing nearly 50 sites, mostly on state-owned wildlife management areas. Connecticut Duck Stamp funds also have been used to purchase specialized large equipment to conduct extensive marsh restoration work, particularly along the coast, and a 75-acre addition to the Wangunk Meadows Wildlife Management Area in Portland.

Connecticut Duck Stamps may be purchased for $13.00 wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold: participating town clerks, participating retail agents, select DEEP offices, and through the DEEP's Online Sportsmen Licensing System. The 2014 Connecticut Duck Stamp is valid until December 31, 2014. If you plan to hunt waterfowl in January, February, and March of 2015, you must purchase a 2015 Duck Stamp, which will be valid from January 1, 2015, through December 31, 2015 (New for 2015: the CT Duck Stamp will be $7 for 16 & 17-year-old hunters). The 2015 Connecticut Duck Stamp will feature a northern shoveler painting by Guy Crittenden that won the third Duck Stamp Competition, which was held in 2014.

Federal Duck Stamp
All waterfowl hunters age 16 and older also are required to purchase and carry the current federal Duck Stamp (also known as the Migratory Bird Conservation and Hunting Stamp). Proceeds (98%) go into the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, which supports the purchase of wetlands for inclusion into the National Wildlife Refuge System. Federal Duck Stamp sales raise about $25 million each year to fund wetland habitat acquisition for the National Wildlife Refuge System. To date, Duck Stamp funds have been used to acquire over 6 million acres of critical habitat at hundreds of refuges in nearly every state in our nation. In Connecticut, 39% of the acreage of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge was purchased with Federal Duck Stamp funds. Federal Duck Stamps can be purchased at local post offices for $15 each.

Don't Forget to Get HIP
Migratory bird hunters are reminded that they must obtain a HIP permit if they plan to hunt for ducks, coots, geese, brant, woodcock, rails or snipe. HIP permits can be purchased for $4.00 at any town hall or from the DEEP's Online Sportsmen Licensing System. They must be purchased annually. Information derived from the the HIP permit is used to estimate the total waterfowl harvest across the country. These estimates are very important, because they help to determine Federal waterfowl regulations. Thus, please fill out the survey truthfully and fully.

Waterfowl Hunting in Urban Settings
Waterfowl hunting along the Connecticut coast is a long-running, cherished tradition. It has taken place for many years in close proximity to areas of high human use. For the most part, there have been very few conflicts. However, in recent years, there have been some negative encounters between waterfowl hunters and the nonhunting public. Waterfowl hunters must realize, when hunting in coastal areas in the public eye, that they must uphold the highest standards of legal and ethical hunting behavior. Remember that hunting is a privilege, not a right. The hunting privilege that you enjoy could be curtailed due to the unethical and unsportsmenlike actions of a few hunters.
If you choose to hunt in areas in the public eye, you must exercise unquestioned ethical hunting practices, avoid conflicts with other users of the resource, and use common sense. If you don't, the alternative is clear…hunting opportunities will be greatly reduced.

Report Violations
Poaching is stealing--simple as that. Shooting before or after hours, overbagging, shooting out of season, and rallying birds are all unethical hunting behaviors and illegal. If you see violations, report them to the DEEP's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-842-HELP (4537). All calls are confidential and, if an arrest is made, a reward is given.

Access Restrictions Due to Heightened Security
Waterfowl hunters are reminded that restrictions are in place in many areas due to heightened security concerns. Of note, per the United States Coast Guard:
1. No boat may be anchored within 25 yards of any bridge along any navigable waterway.
2. There is a 700-yard security zone around the Millstone Power Plant in Niantic.
3. No boats are allowed within 1,500 feet of the downstream side of the Shepaug and Lake Housatonic Dams (Derby/Shelton); 700 feet of the downstream side of the Stevenson Dam (Oxford/Monroe); 300 feet of the downstream side of the Bleachery Dam (New Milford); and 300 feet upstream of all these dams.

Hunter Ethics: As Connecticut becomes more urbanized, a smaller percentage of our population participates in hunting, and is familiar with the traditions and values associated with hunting. The image that individual hunters portray to the non-hunting community is often the image that is placed upon the hunting community as a whole. Thus, the way hunters present themselves to the public is very important to the future of the hunting tradition.

Due to the high visibility areas that some waterfowlers use, particularly along the coast, it is imperative that hunters maintain the highest integrity and remain responsible while out in the field. To conduct yourself in an ethical and responsible manner, you should: 

  1. Respect property and landowners. Always obtain permission to hunt on private land - this is a legal requirement in Connecticut.
  2. Know and obey the laws.
  3. Hunt safely. Shoot in a safe direction. Treat all guns as loaded. Always dress appropriately and be prepared for changes in the weather.
  4. Avoid potential conflicts with non-hunters.
  5. Respect the environment and wildlife.
  6. Don't "skybust." Calling waterfowl in to appropriate gun range is one of the greatest challenges and rewards of waterfowling.
  7. Don't shoot ducks on the water.
  8. If a nearby hunting party is working birds, don't try and call those birds to you.

Avian Influenza

What Is It? Avian influenza, specifically the Asian H5N1 strain that is currently in the news, is a naturally occurring virus. Type A viruses (referred to as avian influenza or “bird flu”) cause infection in birds, humans, and some other mammals, such as pigs. There are 144 identified subtypes (strains) of Type A influenza. Wild birds, especially shorebirds and waterfowl, are the natural host for all the known strains of Type A influenza viruses. Most strains of Type A influenza are low pathenogenic. Typically, wild birds do not become sick when infected with avian influenza A viruses, and humans are not affected either. Sometimes, however, the virus is introduced into a new host, such as domestic poultry, and evolves into a more lethal (high pathenogenic) strain. This is what has occurred with Asian H5N1.

Should Hunters Be Concerned? Currently, the transmission of the Asian H5N1 strain from birds to humans has been exclusively from domestic poultry. In these cases, the infected people were in close contact with infected chickens or other domestic poultry. There is no case of transmission from a wild bird to a human. There is no current evidence that the Asian H5N1 strain affects pets or hunting dogs. Regardless of the fact that transmission hasn’t occurred between wild birds and humans, hunters should take basic precautionary measures, if they don’t already, when handling harvested waterfowl:

  1. Do not handle birds that are obviously sick or birds found dead.
  2. Keep your game birds cool, clean, and dry
  3. Do not eat, drink, or smoke while cleaning your birds.
  4. Use rubber gloves when cleaning game.
  5. Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol wipes after dressing birds.
  6. Clean all tools and surfaces immediately afterward; use hot soapy water, then disinfect with a 10% chlorine bleach solution.
  7. Cook game meat thoroughly (165°F) to kill disease organisms.

Will AI Affect Waterfowl Populations? The wild bird die-offs across the globe that have been attributed to Asian H5N1 are very small relative to the annual die-offs that occur due to other diseases, such as botulism or avian cholera. The largest reported wild bird die-off involved approximately 1,500 bar-headed geese in western China. Most reported and confirmed wild bird die-offs have involved less than 50 birds. In comparison, recent botulism outbreaks in the Great Lakes have annually claimed approximately 25,000 birds. Thus, at this time, there is no concern that the Asian H5N1 virus will negatively impact wild bird populations.

For more information on Asian H5N1 and avian influenza in general:
Connecticut Department of Agriculture
Connecticut Department of Public Health
State of Connecticut Flu Watch
National Wildlife Health Center
United States Fish and Wildlife Service
World Health Organization

Contaminants in Waterfowl
Studies conducted in Pennsylvania and New York have shown that some samples from mergansers, especially common and red-breasted, had high levels of contaminants, including PCBs. Mergansers feed primarily on fish that may concentrate contaminants.

Other studies have shown that diving ducks (e.g., scaup, bufflehead, goldeneye) also may have high levels of contaminants; dabbling ducks (e.g., mallards, black ducks, teal, wigeon, gadwall) generally have lower levels; and wood ducks and Canada geese are the least contaminated.

Many sportsmen are aware of health advisories regarding high PCB concentrations in ducks from Massachusetts (Canada geese were not included in those advisories). Sportsmen and their families that want to minimize any potential exposure to contaminants should limit their consumption of mergansers and other waterfowl and remove the skin and fat before cooking. This consideration is especially important for pregnant women due to the effects of PCBs on reproduction.

Removing the skin from the breasts of waterfowl substantially reduces the amount of contaminants. If birds are stuffed, the stuffing should not be consumed. Drippings should not be used for gravy. If you would like more information regarding the health effects of PCBs, call the Connecticut Department of Public Health at 860-509-7742.

How Annual Waterfowl Regulations Are Set
The annual process of setting migratory gamebird hunting regulations in the United States begins in January and ends in September and is based on a system of resource monitoring, data analyses, and regulation development. Hunting regulations for ducks, geese, woodcock, mourning doves, and other migratory gamebirds are set annually and based on the population status of each species. Estimates of both the number of birds and hunting harvests are needed to monitor and ensure appropriate and sustainable populations of each species.

Each year, surveys, such as the waterfowl breeding pair, woodcock singing ground, and dove call count, are conducted. The results of these various surveys are used to assess the populations. In addition, leg banding of various waterfowl species and others, such as mourning doves, is used to determine harvest and survival rates for use in harvest and population models. Information on hunter numbers and harvests is obtained from the Harvest Information Program (HIP). Habitat conditions are also annually assessed across the waterfowl breeding ranges of North America.

All these data are analyzed annually by the biologists of each of the 4 Flyway Councils (Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific). The councils develop waterfowl and other migratory gamebird hunting regulation proposals, which are, in turn, submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for evaluation and approval or denial.

After extensive public review, the USFWS Regulations Committee (SRC) sets migratory bird hunting regulations by establishing the frameworks, or outside limits, for season lengths, bag limits, and areas for migratory bird hunting. For example, the current duck hunting season frameworks in the Atlantic Flyway are a 60-day season with a 6-bird daily bag limit that must occur between the Saturday nearest September 24 and the last Sunday in January. Individual states may then choose their hunting seasons from within those frameworks. States can be more restrictive than the allowable framework, but never more liberal.  Early season regulations are set at the June meeting of the SRC. Early seasons generally begin before October 1 and pertain to migratory gamebirds other than waterfowl (i.e., webless migratory game birds); all migratory gamebirds in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands; and special early waterfowl seasons, such as teal or resident Canada geese. Late season regulations are set at the July meeting of the SRC. Late seasons generally start on or after October 1 and include most waterfowl seasons not already established.

Setting waterfowl hunting regulations is a balancing act. Hunters request different season dates, bag limits, shooting hours, etc., depending upon the species they want to pursue and when they want to pursue them. Hunters appear to want the maximum hunting opportunity that is available. The DEEP’s challenge is to balance these demands with the ability of our waterfowl populations to maintain themselves at healthy levels over the long-term. This has never been easy and will likely become more difficult in the future.

Explaining Migrant Canada Goose Seasons
Three distinct populations of Canada geese are present in Connecticut during fall, winter, and early spring – the Atlantic Population (AP), North Atlantic Population (NAP), and Atlantic Flyway Resident Population (AFRP). The AP nests in northern Quebec and winters from Massachusetts southward to North Carolina, although primarily in the Chesapeake region of the Atlantic Flyway. The NAP breeds in the Canadian Maritime provinces and western Greenland, and winters primarily in southern New England and eastern Long Island. The AFRP geese breed throughout Connecticut, but are at their highest densities in the more urbanized areas of the state where hunting exposure is low.

As AFRP goose numbers began to expand throughout Connecticut, so did the number of nuisance complaints. As such, Connecticut was the first state in the nation to establish a season specifically designed to harvest AFRP geese while ensuring a minimal harvest of migrant Canada geese. This special late season began in 1986 and continues today, with minor modifications, in the South Zone. A similar September season was established in 1996 to target AFRP geese before migrant geese arrive in the state. These special seasons are monitored through the analysis of band recovery data and neck collar observations.

The status of migrant goose populations drives the regular goose season regulations in the Atlantic Flyway. In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) closed the regular Canada goose season in the Atlantic Flyway because the AP breeding pair estimate declined to such low levels that it was evident that the AP could not support any sport harvest. The AP season was closed in Connecticut until 1999. The presence of large numbers of NAP geese in New England led to the initiation, in 1998, of migrant Canada goose hunting once again in Connecticut. This season was only offered in certain areas of the state and targeted NAP geese. 1998 marked the first year that the USFWS separated the AP from the NAP during regular goose hunting seasons. In Connecticut, band return data and neck collar observations indicate that AP geese occur primarily in Litchfield County and western Hartford County, whereas NAP geese tend to be found east of the Connecticut River, predominantly in Windham and New London Counties. Thus, due to the presence of 3 different goose populations in Connecticut, the state has been divided into 3 goose hunting zones, each with different regulations, based on the status of the population and the overall management goal for each population. As data are compiled and analyzed, changes are made accordingly.

Report Waterfowl Bands
Assistance with the reporting of waterfowl bands is crucial for management decisions. Leg band return data help managers track waterfowl movements, the timing of these movements, harvest rates, and other important information. Bands and other markers, such as neck collars, can be reported online at www.reportband.gov. By reporting band recoveries through the Internet, you will receive immediate feedback on where the bird was initially banded and you can print a Certificate of Appreciation directly. Bands can also be reported by calling a toll-free number, 1-800-327-BAND. Operators are available Mon.-Fri., from 7:00 AM-4:30 PM, with voice mail after hours and on weekends. This number should only be used to report bands.

Federal Regulations
The material below is only a summary. Each hunter should also consult the actual federal regulations which may be found in Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 20. In addition to state regulations, the following federal rules apply to the taking, possession, shipping, transporting and storing of migratory game birds. The Synopsis of Federal Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations should also be consulted.

Restrictions: Unless specifically authorized for a special season, no person shall take migratory game birds:

  • With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10-gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance.
  • With a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler which is incapable of removal without disassembling the gun.
  • From a sink box (a low floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of water).
  • From or with the aid or use of a car or other motor-driven land conveyance, or any aircraft, except that paraplegics and single or double amputees of legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor-driven land conveyance. "Paraplegic" means an individual afflicted with paralysis of the lower half of the body with involvement of both legs, usually due to disease or injury to the spinal cord.
  • From or by means of any motorboat or sailboat, unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or the sail furled, and its progress therefrom ceased. However, crippled ducks in tidal waters seaward of the first upstream bridge may be taken under power.
  • By the use or aid of live decoys. All live, tame or captive ducks and geese shall be removed for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to hunting and confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such tame birds from the sight of migratory waterfowl.
  • By the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds.
  • By driving, rallying or chasing birds with any motorized conveyance or any sailboat to put them in the range of hunters.
  • By the aid of baiting (placing feed such as corn, wheat, salt, or other feed to constitute a lure or enticement), or on or over any baited area where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. Hunters should be aware that a baited area is considered baited for 10 days after the removal of the bait.

Closed Season. No person shall take migratory game birds during the closed season.

Shooting Hours. No person shall take migratory game birds except during the hours open to shooting as prescribed.

Daily Bag Limit. No person shall take in any one day more than one daily bag limit.

Field Possession Limit. No person shall possess more than one daily bag limit while in the field or while returning from the field to one's car, hunting camp, home, etc.

Wanton Waste. All migratory game birds killed or crippled shall be retrieved, if possible, and retained in the custody of the hunter in the field.

Tagging. No person shall give, put or leave any migratory game birds at any place or in the custody of another person unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the following information:

  1. The hunter's signature.
  2. The hunter's address.
  3. The total number of birds involved, by species.
  4. The dates such birds were killed.

No person or business shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged.

Possession of Live Birds. Wounded birds reduced to possession shall be immediately killed and included in the daily bag limit.

Dressing. No person shall completely field dress any migratory game bird and then transport the birds from the field. The head or one fully feathered wing must remain attached to all such birds while being transported from the field to one's home or to a migratory bird preservation facility.

Shipment. No person shall ship migratory game birds unless the package is marked on the outside with: (a) the name and address of the person sending the birds, (b) the name and address of the person to whom the birds are being sent, and (c) the number of birds, by species, contained in the package.

Importation. For information regarding the importation of migratory game birds killed in another country, hunters should consult Title 50, CFR, 20.61-20.66. One fully feathered wing must remain attached to all migratory game birds being transported between the port of entry and one's home or to a migratory bird preservation facility. No person shall import migratory game birds belonging to another person.

Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp. The law requires that waterfowl hunters 16 years of age and older must carry on their person a valid federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (duck stamp) signed in ink across the face. A duck stamp is not required to hunt woodcock, snipe, coot, rail or gallinule.

Dual Violation. Violation of state migratory bird regulations is also a violation of federal regulations.

Reference. Federal regulations related to migratory game birds are located in Title 50, CFR, Part 20.

Caution. More restrictive regulations may apply to national wildlife refuges open to public hunting. For information, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in Hadley, Massachusetts; 413-253-8274

Connecticut Regulations

  1. While hunting waterfowl, hunters 16 years of age or older must have valid Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp authorization on their license or have in their possession a Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp signed in ink across the face of the stamp. A stamp is not required to hunt woodcock, snipe, coot or rail.
  2. For waterfowl hunting, only the following shot shall be used: (1) non-toxic steel shot no larger than BB steel, or (2) any other federally approved non-toxic shot type, such as bismuth-tin alloy, tungsten iron, tungsten polymer, tungsten-matrix or tungsten-nickel-iron (Hevishot) shot no larger than #2. No person may possess lead shot while waterfowl hunting.
  3. Hunting, shooting or carrying of loaded firearms within 500 feet of any building occupied by people or domestic animals or used for storage of flammable material, or within 250 feet of such buildings when waterfowl hunting in tidal areas from land shooting positions or from floating blinds anchored adjacent to land or from rock positions, is prohibited, unless written permission from lesser distances is obtained from the owner and carried. Landowners, their spouses and lineal descendants are exempt from this restriction, providing any building involved is their own.
  4. Shooting toward any person, building or domestic animal when within range is prohibited.
  5. All waterfowl hunting on state-controlled lands and water of Great Island, Old Lyme, and Ragged Rock, Old Saybrook, shall be from temporary waterfowl hunting blinds only, except that cripples may be recovered by shooting within the area open to hunting. 
  6. Boats left unattended at DEEP lands must be marked so that identification of the owner can be made.
  7. No person shall kill or wound any waterfowl without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the bird. Any bird which is killed or wounded and not retrieved shall count in the daily bag total.
  8. A hunting party shall include no more than six individuals, with a minimum distance of 100 yards between parties.
  9. No person may construct or place any permanent blind or structure for hunting of waterfowl on state-controlled lands or waters. 

Local Regulations
Over the years, the Department has closed certain areas to waterfowl hunting or imposed additional restrictions at some sites. These actions are taken when the Department finds that the physical setting of a particular locality presents an unreasonable risk that hunters may violate the regulations regarding minimum distances to dwellings or the regulations regarding shooting towards dwellings or people. Please become familiar with these local sites and always use good judgment when hunting near any populated area. Maps of these closure areas are available upon request at 860-424-3011.

Just because an area is not specifically listed here does NOT mean it is open to waterfowl hunting. Hunters must always comply with existing regulations regarding minimum distances from dwellings and shooting towards persons, buildings, and domestic animals within range. 

  1. Waterfowl hunting is permitted at Selden Neck Natural Area Preserve in Lyme.
  2. Waterfowl hunting in the Niantic River in the towns of Waterford and East Lyme is subject to the following regulations:
    (a) Hunting is prohibited from the shore or in the intertidal area without permission of the riparian property owner.
    (b) Hunting is prohibited in the water area northerly of an east and west line which touches the southern tip of Sandy Point and includes Kenny Cove.
    (c) Hunting from boats is permitted only along the midline of the river.
    (d) Hunting is prohibited in Smith Cove and the channel entering Smith Cove in East Lyme.
  3. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited in Alewife Cove and entrance channel, Waterford and New London, and in Jordan Cove north from the mean high water line on the northern side of the sand spit and island.
  4. In Westport, waterfowl hunting is prohibited from the shores and waters shoreward of lines extending from the tip of Cedar Point to: a) the southerly tip of the stone breakwall at the eastern end of Compo Beach; and, b) the southwest tip of Hendrick’s Point.
  5. There shall be no waterfowl hunting in the tidal waters of Cove Harbor within 100 feet of the mean high tide mark of the Darien shore.
  6. There shall be no waterfowl hunting in Cove Pond (Holly Pond), Stamford and Darien, north of the dam.
  7. There shall be no waterfowl hunting in Poquetanuck Cove, bordered by the town of Preston and Ledyard.
  8. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited in the area of Mason's Island known as Ram Point Cove inland of a line extending from the high water mark of the southernmost tip of Ram Point to the southernmost tip of Mason's Island bordering the eastern side of Ram Point Cove.
  9. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited in the Black Hall River in Old Lyme in the area bordered on the south by Route 156 and on the north by the first upstream railroad crossing.
  10. There shall be no waterfowl hunting in Assekonk Swamp Wildlife Management Area, North Stonington.
  11. There shall be no waterfowl hunting in any direction within a 500-foot radius of the mean high tide mark at Merwin Point in Milford or from within an area bounded by the shoreline and a line from the southernmost extension of the 500-foot radius at Merwin Point westward to the southeastern shoreline at Pond Point in Milford.
  12. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited in Bantam Lake in Litchfield and Morris.
  13. There shall be no waterfowl hunting in the Mystic River from Route 27 south to Route 1 in Mystic and Groton.
  14. There shall be no waterfowl hunting in or from the banks of Ash Creek north of the line drawn from the northern end of the steel railing on the fishing pier in Fairfield to the northern end of the stone sea wall in Bridgeport at the mouth of the creek where it enters Long Island Sound.
  15. Waterfowl hunting at King's Island in Enfield is by written permit only; call the Wildlife Division (860-424-3011) for details.
  16. Waterfowl hunting in the Thames River in the town of Waterford is prohibited in Smith Cove northwest and above the railroad tracks, and from the shores and waters in the vicinity of Mamacoke Island in Mamacoke Cove westward of a line running from the easternmost point of land at Harrison's Landing due north to the point where it intersects the southernmost tip of Mamacoke Island, and from the shores and waters within the unnamed cove west of the southernmost point of shoreline of the unnamed waterbody west of the railroad tracks, the shores and waters of which shall also be closed to waterfowl hunting, to a point intersecting the shoreline of Mamacoke Island.
  17. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited from the shore and water in the Giant's Neck area of East Lyme at the mouth of the Pataguanset River northward of a line running due west from the south end of the fixed pier located at the Giant's Neck Boat Association Launch to the south end of the breakwall located at the end of Point Road.
  18. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited from the shores and waters of Long Island Sound in Greenwich as follows:
    - In Greenwich Cove, north of a line extending from the easternmost point of land at Willowmere Point to the northernmost point of land on the peninsula immediately north of Meadow Place.
    - In Cos Cob Harbor, north of a line extending due east from the southernmost point of land at the power plant property off of Sound Shore Road to the shoreline adjacent to Glen Avon Road.
    - In Greenwich Harbor, Smith Cove and Indian Harbor, north of a line extending from the northernmost tip of the area known as Round Island on the west side of Greenwich Harbor to the southernmost tip of the peninsula at the end of Indian Field Road.
    - In Byram Harbor, north of a line extending northeastward from the end of Dock Road to the southeastern most tip of Gamecock Island across Byram Harbor to the southernmost tip of the unnamed peninsula immediately west of Harbor Drive.
  19. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited from the shores and waters of the Branford River in Branford from Route 1 south to Montowese Avenue.
  20. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited from the shores and waters in Post Cove in Deep River southward of the dike that extends across the northern edge of the cove.
  21. Waterfowl hunting at Plum Bank WMA in Old Saybrook is prohibited north and east of a line extending from Southview Circle southeast to Gull Lane.
  22. Hunting is prohibited in that part of Gulf Pond in Milford between the Milford breakwater and Metro North railroad tracks and in Milford Harbor from the Milford breakwater north to the Memorial Bridge.
  23. Hunting is prohibited in Lake Wononscopomuc in Salisbury.
  24. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited from the shores and waters of the Housatonic River in Stratford and Milford southward from the I-95 bridge to a line running east and west across the river that includes the northern-most tip of the island in the river that occurs adjacent to the end of Riverview Place in Stratford.
  25. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited from the shores and waters of the Quinnipiac River downstream from a line extending from the southernmost tip of Fargeorge Preserve (Granis Island) at the mouth of Hemingway Creek, across the river to Lombard Street, south to the Amtrak/Route 1 bridge near the mouth of New Haven Harbor.

Falconry Seasons
Falconers possessing valid permits (state and federal falconry permits, Connecticut small game license, HIP permit, federal and Connecticut duck stamp) may take migratory game birds during any established migratory game bird season. Allowable species for falconry are: ducks, coots, mergansers, and seaducks  and woodcock, snipe, and rails. Species-specific bag limits do not apply to falconry take. However, the daily bag limit for falconry is 3 migratory game birds in aggregate per day and 6 in possession. The daily and possession limit may contain any species that is legal during any regulated firearms migratory game bird season. The falconry bag limit is not in addition to gun limits.

Content last updated on December 9, 2014.