Migratory Bird Hunting Season Dates Set in Connecticut

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Migratory Bird Hunting Season Dates Set in ConnecticutThe Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced the dates for the 2009-2010 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 2009-2010 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 at www.ct.gov/dep/hunting.

September Canada Goose Season

The September Canada goose season will be held in the North Zone (portion of the state north of Interstate 95) from September 8 – 30, 2009.  The season in the South Zone (portion of the state south of Interstate 95) will run from September 15 – 30, 2009. The daily bag limit remains at 15 geese. A new change for 2009 is the allowance of unplugged shotguns during the September goose season only. This should result in greater harvest of resident 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 scheduled at a time when 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 to harvest these birds.

Ducks, Mergansers, and Coots

Bag limits for some duck species have been changed for the 2009-2010 season. The canvasback breeding population was high enough in 2009 to allow for a 1-bird daily bag limit in the Atlantic Flyway. The scaup bag limit will be increased to 2 birds per day for the entire duck season. The scaup breeding population was up this year and the increased harvest level is in accordance with the current scaup harvest strategy.

The North Zone early duck season opens October 14 and runs through October 24, 2009. The South Zone early season opens October 14 and runs through October 19, 2009. The late North Zone season will be November 13, 2009, through January 9, 2010. The late South Zone season will be November 21, 2009, through January 23, 2010.

The sea duck season in the sea duck zone (coastal areas and streams seaward of the first upstream bridge) has been set for September 22, 2009, to January 23, 2010. Due to continued concern over the status of sea duck populations and increasing hunting pressure, the total sea duck bag limit remains at 5.

The Atlantic brant season will be 50 days with a 2-bird daily bag limit. An extremely late spring in the Arctic breeding grounds will result in very little production of Atlantic brant this year. A more conservative approach to harvest was warranted.

Legal shooting hours for all waterfowl hunting (except for the September Canada goose season) are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

The DEP Wildlife Division’s Migratory Gamebird Program is collecting scaup, mergansers, and Atlantic brant for avian influenza testing. Hunters who are willing to donate fresh birds (within 24 hours of harvest) should contact the Migratory Gamebird Program at 860-642-7239 (Monday through Friday, from 8:30 AM-4:30 PM). Arrangements will be made to get carcasses from hunters.

Regular and Late Canada Goose Seasons

For the 2002-2003 hunting season, the existing North Atlantic Population (NAP) Canada goose 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 areas where there are persistent nuisance problems. These zones were changed for the 2008-2009 hunting season to account for changes in distribution of migrant and resident Canada geese. The NAP L-Unit was removed, and a new zone, the Atlantic Flyway Resident Population (AFRP) zone, was created. The same units are in place for the 2009-2010 season. The descriptions of the AFRP, NAP H-Unit, and AP (Atlantic Population) Unit are as follows:

AP Unit: Litchfield County and the portion of Hartford County, 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 County line.

AFRP Unit: Starting at the intersection of Interstate 95 and the Quinnipiac River excluding the east shore, north on the Quinnipiac River to its intersection with Interstate 91, north on I-91 to Interstate 691, west on I-691 to the Hartford County line, and encompassing the rest of New Haven County and Fairfield County in its entirety.

NAP H-Unit: All of the rest of the state not included in the AP or AFRP descriptions above.

The AFRP unit will have an 80-day season with a 5-bird daily bag limit. The NAP H-Unit will have a 60-day season with a 2-bird bag limit. The NAP breeding population was still below the 2001-2005 average, which precluded a liberalization of the season in 2009-2010.

In the AFRP Unit, the regular goose season will contain 3 splits. The first split will run from October 1 – 27, 2009. The second split will run from November 13 – December 3, 2009. The final split will run from January 1 – February 15, 2010. The 3 allowable splits of the season will provide more opportunities for goose hunters in this unit. In the NAP H-Unit, the regular goose season, in both the North and South Zones, will have 2 splits. The first split will run from October 1 – 17, 2009, while the second split will run from November 24, 2009, to January 14, 2010.

The season in the AP Unit will remain at 45 days and also have 2 splits. The first split will run from November 2 – 7, 2009, while the second split will run from November 26, 2009, to January 9, 2010. The daily bag limit will be 3 geese. The Atlantic Population continues to recover. Production, however, for the AP looks to be poor in 2009. A fall flight in excess of one million birds is still 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 – February 10, 2010. The bag limit during the late season is 5 geese, and no special permit is required for this season.

The dates for the snow goose season in the North Zone are October 1, 2009, to January 14, 2010, and from February 20 – March 10, 2010. In the South Zone, the snow goose season will run from October 1 – November 30, 2009, and then from January 6 – March 10, 2010.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Training Days

Connecticut will hold two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Training Days on Saturday, October 10, and Monday, October 12, 2009. 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

Opening day for woodcock and snipe hunting will be October 30 and the season will run until November 28, 2009. The rail season will be split. The first split is from September 1 – 4, 2009 and the second split is from September 8 – 12, 2009. Bag limits for the 2009 season are the same as 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 many 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 and online at www.ct.gov/dep/sportsmenlicensing.  With the new automated licensing system, the purchase of a State Duck stamp will appear as an authorization on one’s Conservation License.  If hunters want an actual CT Duck Stamp, they should contact DEP Licensing and Revenue at 860-424-3105.  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.