Wisconsin Natural Resources Board Approves 2020 Migratory Bird Hunting Season Framework And Regulations

Highlights Include Changes To Duck Opening Dates And Hen Mallard Bag Limits

MADISON, Wis. – The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board on April 1, 2020 voted unanimously for the Department of Natural Resources to move forward with proposed rules for the 2020 migratory bird season framework and regulations. Thanks to input from hunters and new scientific research, Wisconsin will see some notable changes.

Highlights from the approved season structure include:

  • North duck zone will open one week earlier than last season, resulting in two statewide openers, one for the North on Sept. 26 and one for the South and Mississippi zones on Oct. 3. The regular duck season will run for 60 days;
  • A 92-day regular goose season with a second split in the South Canada goose zone resulting in a goose season that is open during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays;
  • An increase in the hen mallard daily bag limit (from one to two) based on US Fish and Wildlife Service season framework; and
  • A decrease in the scaup bag limit to one scaup for 15 days and two scaup for 45 days based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service season framework.

“These season frameworks were based on the most current scientific data and input we received from the public, input from conservation and hunting groups and results from a waterfowl hunter survey,” said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist. “We expanded our outreach efforts in 2020 using social media to increase our engagement with our users, and we saw great attendance at statewide public hearings. In total, we received more than 2,100 comments regarding the 2020 waterfowl season proposals.”

A previous press release announced that the NRB set a new zone structure to go into effect for the 2021-2025 seasons. While the department presented information to the board on a potential change to the zone structure for the 2021-2025 seasons, this item was not identified as an action item on the NRB agenda.

The Department is proposing a three-zone/one-split structure that includes the North Zone, South Zone and an Open Water Zone. The Open Water Zone would fall 500 feet from shore on the coasts of Lake Michigan and Green Bay. The current Mississippi River Zone would be eliminated and areas in that current zone would be included in the existing South Zone.

The department’s 2021-2025 zone proposal will be considered by the board as an action item at a future NRB meeting. The board may also consider this change in future rulemaking. Learn more about waterfowl hunting here.

The public plays a crucial role in setting the waterfowl season structure, and Finger thanked those who submitted a comment or attended a meeting. View the 2020 public input results and comments here.

Early season dates are as follows:

Early Species Season Open Close Limit
Early Teal Sept. 1 Sept. 9 Six birds per day
Early Goose Sept. 1 Sept 15 Five birds per day
Mourning Dove Sept. 1 Nov. 29 15 birds per day
Woodcock Sept. 19 Nov. 2 Three birds per day

Duck season dates and bag limits are as follows. Opening day shooting hours will begin one-half hour before sunrise for all regular waterfowl hunting seasons.

Duck Season First Open First Close Second Open Second Close
Youth Hunt Sept. 19 Sept. 20
North Zone Sept. 26 Nov. 24
South Zone Oct. 3 Oct 11 Oct 17 Dec. 6
Mississippi Zone Oct. 3 Oct 11 Oct. 17 Dec. 6

The daily bag limit statewide is six ducks, including no more than:

Duck Bag Limits

Species Daily limit (total daily bag limit is six ducks of any species)
Mallard 4 (of which only 2 may be a hen)
Black Duck 2
Canvasback 2
Wood Duck 3
Pintail 1
Redhead 2
Merganser 5

There is a 60-day restrictive scaup bag limit (federal restriction; 15 days at one scaup/day and 45 days at two scaup/day):

60-day Restrictive Scaup Bag Limit

Zone Period Scaup/day limit
North Zone Sept. 26 – Oct. 10 One/day
Oct. 11 – Nov. 24 Two/day
South Zone Oct. 3 – Oct. 11 One/day
Oct. 17 – Oct. 22 One/day
Oct. 23 – Dec. 6 Two/day
Mississippi River Zone Oct. 3 – Oct. 11 One/day
Oct. 17 – Oct. 22 One/day
Oct. 23 – Dec. 6 Two/day

Regular goose season dates are as follows for the Exterior Zone (92 days total):

Regular Goose Season Dates

Zone First Open First Close Second Open Second Close Third Open Third Close
North Zone Sept. 16 Dec. 16
South Zone Sept. 16 Oct. 11 Oct. 17 Dec. 6 Dec. 22 Jan. 5, 2021
Mississippi Zone Oct. 3 Oct. 11 Oct. 17 Jan. 5
News Desk
Author: News Desk

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