HARRISBURG, PA - Pennsylvania’s 2023-24 migratory game bird seasons have been set.
Annual migratory game bird seasons are selected by states from frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s selections were made after reviewing last year’s hunter harvests, population survey data and public input.
There are two significant changes to Pennsylvania waterfowl seasons this year, said Wildlife Operations Division Chief Ian Gregg for the Game Commission. The first change increases the season length for Canada geese in the Atlantic Population Zone from 30 to 45 days and increases the bag limit from one to three per day. “The Atlantic Population of Canada geese had experienced declines as a result of a decade of below-average reproduction including a nearly complete failure in 2018,” said Gregg. “However, gosling production more recently has been relatively good, and the population has increased accordingly.”
The other significant change increases the mallard bag limit from two, to include no more than one hen, to four, which can include no more than two hens. After a few years of the reduced bag limits, the mallard population increased slightly and a new population model was implemented.
“This population model helps us to better understand what is driving the mallard population,” said Nate Huck, Waterfowl Program Specialist for the Game Commission. “We now understand that while the population has declined, those declines were not driven by harvest.” This change will allow additional opportunity to harvest mallards without negatively impacting the population.
In addition to these changes, calendar shifts resulted in small changes to the Resident Population Canada goose seasons and to the Lake Erie Duck Zone season. The Resident Population Canada Goose season saw a week shift from October into January. In the Lake Erie Duck Zone, the season will start roughly one week later than last year and run a week longer into January.
The last change was to Atlantic Brant seasons, which saw a reduction in bag limit from two to one, and a reduction in season length to 30 days because of population declines. However, few brant are harvested in Pennsylvania, most of them on Lake Erie.
Other migratory game bird seasons are similar to last year’s seasons.
Hunters encouraged to report banded birds
Once the seasons begin, migratory game bird hunters are encouraged to report banded ducks, geese, doves, and woodcock they harvest online at www.reportband.gov. Hunters will be requested to provide information on where, when and what species of migratory birds were taken, in addition to the band number. This information is crucial to the successful management of migratory birds.
Huck also stressed that reporting leg bands helps the Game Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service learn more about migratory bird movements, survival, and harvest rates, which are critical to population management and setting of hunting regulations. Last year, more than 6,000 migratory game birds, including more than 5,000 waterfowl, were banded in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania continues to monitor migratory game bird populations in cooperation with other wildlife management agencies across North America, Huck explained. “Information provided by hunters is essential to manage migratory game bird populations and support sustainable hunting opportunities through time,” Huck said. “By reporting the recovery of a leg band, hunters not only assist in managing the resource, but also have an opportunity to learn interesting facts about the bird they harvested,” he added.
2023-24 MIGRATORY GAME BIRD SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS
North Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 7-21, and Nov. 14-Jan. 6.
South Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 7-14, and Nov. 21-Jan. 20.
Northwest Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 7-Dec. 2, and Dec. 26-Jan. 6.
Lake Erie Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Nov. 6-Jan. 13.
Total Duck Bag Limits: 6 daily, 18 in possession of any species, except for the following restrictions: daily limit may not include more than 4 mallards including no more than 2 hen mallards, 2 black ducks, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 2 canvasbacks, 1 pintail, 4 sea ducks; including no more than 3 eiders and no more than 1 female eider, 3 long-tailed ducks, and 3 scoters. Daily limit for scaup varies; see below. Possession limits are three times the daily limits.
Scaup Bag Limits:
North Zone: 1 scaup daily, Oct. 7-21 and Nov. 14-Dec. 14; 2 scaup daily, Dec. 15-Jan.6
South Zone: 1 scaup daily, Oct. 7-14 and Nov. 21-Dec. 28; 2 scaup daily, Dec. 29-Jan. 20
Northwest Zone: 1 scaup daily, Oct. 7-Nov. 22; 2 scaup daily, Nov. 23-Dec. 2 and Dec. 26-Jan. 6
Lake Erie Zone: 2 scaup daily, Nov. 6- Nov. 28; 1 scaup daily, Nov. 29-Jan. 13
Mergansers: 5 daily, 15 in possession
Coots: 15 daily, 45 in possession.
CANADA GEESE (includes WHITE-FRONTED GEESE):
Resident Population Goose Zone (RP)
All of Pennsylvania except for the Atlantic Population zone. Sept. 1-25 (8-goose daily bag limit); and Oct. 28-Nov. 24, Dec. 11-Jan. 20, and Feb. 2-Feb. 24 (5-goose daily bag limit in latter 3 segments).
Exception: See hunting digest to be released in June 2023
Atlantic Population Zone (AP)
The area east of SR 97 from Maryland State Line to the intersection of SR 194, east of SR 194 to intersection of US Route 30, south of US Route 30 to SR 441, east of SR 441 to SR 743, east of SR 743 to intersection of I-81, east of I-81 to intersection of I-80, south of I-80 to New Jersey state line. Sept. 1-25 (8-goose daily bag limit); and Nov. 18-24 and Dec. 7-Jan. 20 (3-goose daily bag limit in latter two segments).
Exception: See hunting digest to be released in June 2023
BRANT (All Zones): Oct. 14-Nov. 17. 1 daily, 3 in possession.
LIGHT GEESE (Snow Geese and Ross’ Geese):
Atlantic Population Zone:
Regular: Oct. 2-Jan. 27, 25 daily, no possession limit.
Conservation Order: Jan. 29 – April 26; 25 daily, no possession limit.
Resident Population Zone:
Regular: Oct. 24-Feb. 24; 25 daily, no possession limit.
Conservation Order: Feb. 26 – April 26; 25 daily, no possession limit.
HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and TUNDRA and TRUMPETER SWANS: No open season.
Sept. 23; Open to junior hunters and mentored youth hunters who hold a current valid junior or mentored license when properly accompanied, for ducks, mergansers, gallinules and coots, and Canada geese as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season. Hunting hours to close at sunset.
Junior, Veteran and Active Duty Military Days:
In Lake Erie Zone; Oct. 28; in Northwest Zone, Dec. 16; in North Zone, Nov. 4; and in South Zone, Nov. 11. Open to junior hunters and mentored youth hunters under the age of 16, when properly accompanied; veterans (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code); and members of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty (other than for training) for ducks, mergansers, gallinules and coots, and Canada geese as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season.
Veteran and Active Duty Military Days:
In Lake Erie Zone; Jan. 20; in Northwest Zone, Jan. 13; in North Zone, Jan. 13; and in South Zone, Jan. 27. Veterans (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code); and members of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty (other than for training) for ducks, mergansers, gallinules and coots, and Canada geese as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season.
DOVES: Sept. 1-Nov. 24, and Dec. 19-Jan. 6. 15 daily, 45 in possession.
WOODCOCK: Oct. 14-Nov. 24, and Dec. 11-20. 3 daily, 9 in possession.
WILSON’S SNIPE: Oct. 14-Nov. 24, and Dec. 11-20. 8 daily, 24 in possession.
GALLINULES: Sept. 1-Nov. 21. 3 daily, 9 in possession.
VIRGINIA AND SORA RAILS: Sept. 1-Nov. 21. Bag limits by single species or in the aggregate; 3 daily, 9 in possession.
CLAPPER AND KING RAILS: No open season.
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MEDIA CONTACT: Travis Lau - 717-705-6541
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