Government shutdown sets back Wisconsin migratory bird hunt proposal

This year’s proposed seasons includes only one major change: The daily bag limit for pintail will drop from two to one. (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Appleton, Wis. – A partial government shutdown that ended two months ago has had an effect on Wisconsin’s proposed migratory bird hunting seasons for 2019.

The 35-day shutdown, which ended Jan. 25, kept the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from providing proposed season frameworks to the state DNR.

In the past, the DNR has incorporated those frameworks into its proposed hunting seasons for ducks, geese, mourning doves and woodcocks, but that hasn’t happened.

“By this time, we would have the proposed season frameworks, which tells us it’s going to be a 60-day season with six ducks a day,” DNR migratory game bird ecologist Taylor Finger said. “We know from the feds that’s likely what’s going to be proposed, but we don’t have anything official yet and we should’ve had it last December.”

Finger unveiled the DNR’s proposed season structures for 2019 at four public hearings in March.

More than 40 people attended the March 13 hearing in Appleton, held at Fox Valley Technical College. Other hearings were held March 11 in La Crosse, March 12 in Rice Lake and March 14 in Pewaukee.

“The Service Regulations Committee of the (U.S.) Fish & Wildlife Service voted on a 60-day, six-duck season structure and they voted it through,” Finger said. “It has to go to the Federal Register to be proposed. We know that it’s already been voted on by the feds, but it hasn’t been officially published in the Federal Register. We do have the minutes from the SRC meeting that says we can have the season, but we don’t have the actual proposed season frameworks yet.

“What that could mean eventually is all of a sudden, we make all these decisions (and) our Natural Resources Board says everything’s good to go,” he said. “We don’t expect it to happen, but there could be a potential that those season frameworks change. All of a sudden, we have to re-go through a process and adjust something because per federal law, we have to go through their frameworks. We aren’t expecting anything to change.”

This year’s proposed seasons includes only one major change: The daily bag limit for pintail will drop from two to one.

“It was at two last year,” Finger said. “Per federal regulations, when the population falls below a certain level, it goes down to a one pintail bag limit. We can’t go anything above what the feds tell us.”

The public had until March 15 to comment on the DNR’s season proposal, which Finger will present to the state Natural Resources Board Wednesday, April 10, at its meeting in Madison.

“I’ll take the final proposal to the board and they’ll make their final decision,” he said.

The proposed seasons and dates include:

  • Early teal: Sept. 1-9.
  • Early goose: Sept. 1-15.
  • Mourning dove: Sept. 1 to Nov. 29.
  • Woodcock: Sept. 21 to Nov. 4.

Duck season dates are:

  • Youth hunt: Sept. 14-15.
  • Northern Zone: Sept. 28 to Nov. 26 (no split season).
  • Southern Zone: Sept. 28 to Oct. 6 and Oct. 12 to Dec. 1 (season closed Oct. 7-11).
  • Mississippi River Zone: Sept. 28 to Oct. 6 and Oct. 19 to Dec. 8 (season closed Oct. 7-18).

Goose season dates are:

  • Northern Zone: Sept. 16 to Dec. 16.
  • Southern Zone: Sept. 16 to Oct. 6, Oct. 12 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 14 to Jan. 2, 2020 (season closed Oct. 7-11 and Dec. 2-13).
  • Mississippi River Zone: Sept. 28 to Oct. 6 and Oct. 19 to Jan. 9, 2020 (season closed Oct. 7-18).

Snow/blue, Ross’, Brant, greater white-fronted and other goose season dates are:

  • Northern Zone: Sept. 16 to Dec. 16.
  • Southern Zone: Sept. 16 to Oct. 6, Oct. 12 to Dec. 1 and Dec. 14 to Jan. 2, 2020 (season closed Oct. 7-11 and Dec. 2-13).
  • Mississippi River Zone: Sept. 28 to Oct. 6 and Oct. 19 to Jan. 9, 2020 (season closed Oct. 7-18).

Seasons for coot, moorhen, rails and snipe will be open the same days as wild duck seasons in all three zones.

Categories: Hunting News, Waterfowl

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