MADISON – Waterfowl hunting season structure for 2015, recommended by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, was approved today by the Natural Resources Board.
In 2015, Wisconsin will be divided into three duck hunting zones, each with 60-day seasons. There will be split seasons in the Southern and Mississippi River duck and goose zones.
Changes in 2015 as a result of NRB approval include:
- opening day shooting hours will now begin one-half hour before sunrise; and
- Mississippi River Zone will open a week later, with a shorter split and an increase in daily bag limit for canvasbacks (from one bird to two).
“Over the last several years, the department has seen public opinion shift to favor a one-half hour before sunrise opener,” said Kent Van Horn. “Based on this shift, the department proposed this change and 89 percent of the individual responses we received were in agreement.”
Waterfowl breeding populations in 2015 are mostly good to excellent in Wisconsin and North America, according to recent surveys by state, federal and Canadian wildlife officials. A recent United States Fish and Wildlife Service survey showed the highest North American duck population estimate, 49.5 million, in the survey’s 60-year history.
“I would like to thank all the folks who took the time to get involved, attend public meetings and participate in the regulatory process,” said Van Horn. “Waterfowl hunting is a great blend of traditions, friendships and memorable days on the marsh, and we wish you a successful hunt and leave you with a reminder to always put safety first. As always, hunters who take the time to scout in the preseason will have the best chance of success on opening day.”
In 2015, duck hunting season structure is as follows:
- Northern Zone – Sept. 26 to Nov. 24;
- Southern Zone – Oct. 3 to Oct 11 and Oct 17. to Dec 6; and
- Mississippi River Zone – Oct. 3 to Oct. 9 and Oct. 17 to Dec 8.
In 2015, season structure for Canada goose hunting is as follows:
- Early September Canada goose season – Sept. 1-15, with a daily bag limit of five geese;
- Northern Exterior Zone – Sept. 16 to Dec 16, with a daily bag limit of two geese;
- Southern Exterior Zone – Sept. 16 to Oct. 11 and Oct. 17 to Dec. 21 , with a daily bag limit of two geese;
- Mississippi River Subzone – Oct. 3 to Oct. 9 and Oct. 17 to Jan. 9, with a daily bag limit of two geese;
- Horicon Zone period 1 – Sept. 16 to Nov. 1, with a daily bag limit of two geese and total season harvest limit of 12 geese; and
- Horicon Zone period 2 – Nov. 2 to Dec. 16, with a daily bag limit of two geese and total season harvest limit of 12 geese.
The Horicon goose hunting zone has been reduced in size, with areas north of Hwy 23 and west of Hwy 73 now included within the Exterior Zone. Horicon Zone goose hunters will be required to slit or punch their goose permit and report their harvest using 1-800-99-GOOSE (46673) within 48 hours of harvest. This is similar to the process for the Exterior Zone and early goose season.
The early migratory bird hunting seasons, including early Canada goose, mourning dove and early teal, were approved at the June natural resources board meeting and will begin Sept. 1. Hunters will not be required to purchase any additional licenses or permits for the early teal hunt in addition to those required for hunting ducks in the regular waterfowl season. The department will be required to monitor and report hunter performance throughout the experimental three-year period – this will help determine the success of an early teal season. In addition, Wisconsin will continue to offer a 90-day dove hunting season.
The 2015 youth waterfowl hunt will be held Sept. 19-20.
The daily bag limit statewide will be six ducks, including no more than:
- four mallards, of which only one may be a hen;
- one black duck;
- two canvasback;
- three wood ducks;
- two pintails;
- three scaup; and
- two redheads.
For species of duck not listed, such as teal and ring-necks, the combined bag total with all other species may not exceed six ducks. It is important to note that possession limits have been increased to three times the daily bag limit.
“Overall, the status of duck and goose populations in 2015 is promising,” said Van Horn. “Water conditions across major North American duck breeding areas were mostly good to excellent and continental duck numbers remain above or near the long-term averages. This is good news and means another liberal 60-day duck season will be offered in 2015.”
To help hunters understand new regulations and season structure, the department will host an online waterfowl season chat Aug. 19 at noon. Wildlife and regulations experts will be on hand to answer any questions related to 2015 waterfowl hunting seasons. For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword “chat.”