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Migratory bird seasons are set for 2022-23

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s 2022-23 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. Game Commission 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. The first change eliminates the Southern James Bay Population Canada goose zone and incorporates the area into the Resident Population zone. The Southern James Bay Population has been shifting its wintering areas west over the last four to five decades.

“With very few Southern James Bay Population geese wintering in northwestern Pennsylvania, it is no longer necessary to have a zone to specifically manage for them,” Gregg said. “We believe hunters in this area will appreciate the higher bag limits allowed in the Resident Population zone. Please note, however, that more restrictive regulations remain in place in portions of Crawford and Mercer counties surrounding Pymatuning Wildlife Management Area; consult the Hunting and Trapping Digest for details.”

The other change removes the separate lower hooded merganser bag limit. Hunters may now harvest any combination of common, red-breasted or hooded mergansers as part of the five-merganser daily bag limit. Hooded mergansers have been generally stable or increasing in recent decades.

“This change will simplify regulations and should allow for some additional opportunity for those hunters who want to target hooded mergansers,” said Waterfowl Program Specialist Nate Huck.

The other change not related to frameworks relates to mourning dove seasons. The second portion of the season will be shifted back a week and run from Dec. 21-Jan. 7.

“This shift is to accommodate public desire to remain open through the first week of January,” said Dove and Quail Biologist Andrew Ward.

The early portions of the season will remain similar to last year.

Other migratory game bird seasons are similar to last year’s seasons.

Hunters encouraged to report banded birds

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, and survival and harvest rates, which are critical to population management and setting of hunting regulations.

Last year, over 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. 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.”

2022-23 MIGRATORY GAME BIRD SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS

DUCKS

• North Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers (Oct. 8-22; Nov. 15-Jan. 7)

• South Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers (Oct. 8-15; Nov. 22-Jan. 21)

• Northwest Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers (Oct. 8-Dec. 3; Dec. 27-Jan. 7)

• Lake Erie Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers (Oct. 31-Jan. 7)

• Total Duck Bag Limits: 6 daily, 18 in possession of any species, except for the following restrictions: daily limit may not include more than 2 mallards including no more than 1 hen mallard, 2 black ducks, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 2 canvasbacks, 1 pintail, 1 mottled duck, 1 fulvous whistling duck, 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. 8-22; Nov. 15-Dec. 15); 2 scaup daily (Dec. 16-Jan.7)

• South Zone: 1 scaup daily (Oct. 8-15; Nov. 22-Dec. 29); 2 scaup daily (Dec. 30-Jan. 21)

• Northwest Zone: 1 scaup daily (Oct. 8-Nov. 23); 2 scaup daily (Nov. 24-Dec. 3; Dec. 27-Jan. 7)

• Lake Erie Zone: 2 scaup daily (Oct. 31- Nov. 22); 1 scaup daily (Nov. 23-Jan. 7)

• 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. 1-24 (8-goose daily bag limit); and Oct. 22-Nov. 25, Dec. 12-Jan. 14, and Feb. 3-Feb. 25 (5-goose daily bag limit in latter 3 segments).

• Exception: See hunting digest

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. 1-24 (8-goose daily bag limit); and Nov. 22-25 and Dec. 23-Jan. 21 (1-goose daily bag limit in latter two segments).

• Exception: See hunting digest

• BRANT (All Zones): Oct. 8-Dec. 5. 2 daily, 6 in possession.

LIGHT GEESE (Snow Geese and Ross’ Geese)

Atlantic Population Zone

• Regular: Oct. 1-Jan. 28, 25 daily, no possession limit.

• Conservation Hunt: Jan. 30-April 21; 25 daily, no possession limit.

Resident Population Zone:

• Regular: Oct. 25-Feb. 25; 25 daily, no possession limit.

• Conservation Hunt: Feb. 27-April 21; 25 daily, no possession limit.

HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and TUNDRA and TRUMPETER SWANS

No open season.

• Junior Days: Sept. 24; Open to junior hunters and mentored youth hunters under the age of 16 when properly accompanied, for ducks, mergansers, gallinules and coots, and Canada goose 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. 22; in Northwest Zone, Dec. 17; in North Zone, Nov. 5; and in South Zone, Nov. 12. 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 goose as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season.

• Veteran and Active Duty Military Days: In Lake Erie Zone; Jan. 14; in Northwest Zone, Jan. 14; in North Zone, Jan. 14; and in South Zone, Jan. 28. 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 goose as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season.

OTHER SEASONS

• DOVES: Sept. 1-Nov. 25; Dec. 21-Jan. 7. 15 daily, 45 in possession.

• WOODCOCK: Oct. 15-Nov. 25; Dec. 12-21. 3 daily, 9 in possession.

• COMMON SNIPE: Oct. 15-Nov. 25; Dec. 12-21. 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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