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DEC announces waterfowl hunting dates, regs changes

May 24, 2017
By JUSTIN A. LEVINE - Outdoors Writer ( , Lake Placid News

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced the waterfowl hunting season dates for this year, as well as several changes to hunting limits and how to report banded birds.

One big change that many waterfowl hunters will be excited about is an increase in bag limit for black ducks. For the first time in 30 years, hunters will be allowed to shoot two black ducks per day, rather than one.

This change was spawned by a study of hunters and the duck population. According to the American Black Duck Adaptive Harvest Management Working Group, the population of black ducks has held steady at more than 600,000 individuals, while the number of hunters and ducks taken each year has steadily decreased. Wildlife managers have determined that increasing the bag limit for black ducks will not have a negative effect on the overall population. The change is part of an international agreement between the U.S. and Canada.

Article Photos

A flock of Lesser Scaup ducks take off from over Lake Clear.
News file photo — Lou Reuter

The state also reduced the number of pintail ducks that could be taken, from two to one. Another change will be in how hunters (and others) report bird tags. Many species of birds get leg tags that help identify where the animal was captured, tagged and released. This information is vital for wildlife managers, and is part of the reason the black duck limit was increased.

Previously, hunters and citizens who found a tag or took a bird with a leg tag called an 800 number. However, the call-in method "will be discontinued in 2017 due to high rates of dropped calls, issues with inaccurate data recording, and federal budget cuts," a press release from the DEC said. "The value of banding data is only fully realized when banded birds are recovered and band numbers are reported to the National Bird Banding Laboratory. DEC is grateful for, and relies heavily on, ?public participation for this effort."

From now on, hunters who find a tagged bird will be able to report it online at or mail the information to Bird Banding Lab, 12100 Beach Forest Road, Laurel, MD 20708.

Waterfowl hunting gets underway in the Northeast zone on Oct. 7 for ducks, coots and mergansers. Those species can be hunted until Oct. 29, and then again from Nov. 4 to Dec. 10. Snow geese can be hunted from Oct. 1 to April 15 next year, while Brant can be hunted from Oct. 1 to Nov. 29.

The state of Vermont sets the hunting season for Lake Champlain with public input from hunters and residents of New York. In the Lake Champlain zone, ducks, coots and mergansers can be taken from Oct. 11 to Oct. 15, and then again from Nov. 7 to Dec. 31. Snow geese can be hunted from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, and then again from Jan. 16 to April 15 next year. Brant can be hunted from Oct. 7 to Dec. 5.

Canada geese hunting starts throughout most of the upstate region on Sept. 1.

"Hunters are reminded that Canada goose seasons are set for different geographic areas of the state than other waterfowl seasons, and should review maps and season dates carefully," which can be found on the DEC's website at

The DEC also added a snow geese special season early next year due to an increase in population. Hunters will be allowed to take snow geese from Jan. 16 to April 15, 2018.

"These birds have become so abundant that they are causing harm to wetland habitats throughout their range. Special seasons have been established in many eastern states and (Canadian) provinces to increase hunter harvest and help reduce this population," the DEC said in a press release. "The daily limit for snow geese is 25 per day. Electronic calls and shotguns capable of holding more than three shells may be used to take snow geese at any time when other waterfowl hunting seasons are closed."

In the Northeast and Lake Champlain hunting zones, the youth hunt dates will be Sept. 23 and 24. These dates are when young hunters, ages 12-15, can gain hunting experience with an adult hunter at their side. The same bag limits apply to youth hunting as during the regular season, while youth may only take three Canada geese. Any youth must be accompanied by an adult with a duck stamp and hunting license, and the adult cannot have or use a gun.

The daily bag limits for Canada geese during the regular hunting season is 15 birds in the Northeast zone, while hunters can take eight per day on Lake Champlain. Hunters can take 15 coot and two Brant each day. The DEC allows hunters to take six ducks and mergansers per day as well, with some stipulations.

"The daily limit of six ducks includes all mergansers and sea ducks (scoters, eiders and long-tailed ducks) and may include no harlequin ducks and no more than four mallards (two of which may be hens), three wood ducks, two black duck, one pintail, two scaup, two redheads, two canvasback, four scoters, four eiders, four long-tailed ducks or two hooded mergansers. For all other duck species found in New York, the daily limit is six," according to DEC's waterfowl hunting page.

Hunters going for any waterfowl species must have proof of registration with the Harvest Information Program. HIP is a federal requirement for hunting any migratory bird species.

The HIP program requires hunters to register each year, and you must register in New York even if you are a visiting hunter registered in another state. A small percentage of HIP registrants will be sent surveys by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The state's waterfowl hunting dates won't become officially finalized until the information gets published in the Federal Register this summer.



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