|New Jersey Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife|
For more information contact:
Paul Castelli at 609-748-2047
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife today announced 1999-2000 migratory bird hunting season regulations.
"This year, New Jersey duck hunters will enjoy 60 days of hunting with a daily bag limit of six ducks," said division Director Bob McDowell. "With most duck populations at or above their long-term averages, Garden State hunters will again enjoy one of the longest duck hunting seasons in over 40 years. On another positive note, the regular season for Canada geese will reopen for the first time since it was closed in 1995. In New Jersey, a 15-day Canada goose season with a bag limit of one goose will be held during the traditional hunting periods during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays."
"Habitat conditions from the traditional survey areas of mid-continent North America, critical to the reproductive success of waterfowl, rose 46 percent over 1998 levels, to a level 37 percent above the long-term (1955-98) average," said Paul Castelli, principal wildlife biologist and leader of the Division's Waterfowl Ecology and Management Program. "Habitat conditions in the East, however, were poorer than in 1998 and some areas of Maine and southern Canada were particularly dry."
"Although this year's fall flight of ducks will be the largest in more than 40 years, healthy waterfowl populations don't necessarily guarantee excellent hunting," McDowell added. "Many variables, including weather and local habitat conditions, often have greater influence on waterfowl distribution than the size of the fall flight."
The daily bag limit of six ducks may not include more than four mallards (including no more than two hens), four bufflehead, four scoters, three scaup, two wood ducks, two redheads, one pintail, one canvasback and one black duck. Black ducks will be legal for the duration of the season in all zones.
A total of 77,451 breeding pairs of Atlantic Population or "migrant" Canada geese were estimated from 1999 surveys in northern Quebec. This breeding population has rebounded substantially from the low of 29,000 breeding pairs estimated in 1995, but still remains at about half of the population objective of 150,000 pairs. This population has experienced above average young production for the last three years, which will play an important role in the recovery of these birds. The limited regular season in 1999 will allow some harvest of migrant geese, but the harvest should be small enough so that the population will continue to grow.
Additionally in New Jersey, the 1999 September Canada Goose Season will be held from September 1-30, again on a statewide basis. The 2000 Winter Canada Goose Season will be held in the same hunt areas as in 1999 with season dates of January 15 to February 15, 2000. Bag limits during both of these seasons will be five Canada geese per day. Both seasons are targeted at resident geese, which now number over one million birds in the Atlantic Flyway. There will be no special permit requirements as in past years for sportsmen to participate in these seasons.
The Atlantic brant population was at above average levels based on winter counts in January 1999. However, a very poor year of young production is expected this year due to the late timing of snowmelt on their arctic breeding grounds. As a result, the brant season will remain at 50 days with a two brant per day bag limit.
As snow geese remain at exceptionally high levels, biologists continue to be concerned about potential impacts snow geese may have on fragile arctic nesting habitats. Serious damage to arctic wetlands has already been documented in several key snow goose breeding colonies. This damage not only impacts the snow geese themselves, but other arctic wildlife as well. The season length for snow geese is already 107 days, the longest allowed under the Migratory Bird Treaty.
Bag limits will remain liberal this year with 15 snow geese per day and no possession limit.
"All migratory bird hunters are reminded that they must obtain a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number before hunting ducks, geese, brant, woodcock, rails, snipe, coots or gallinules in New Jersey," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Hunters can get their HIP number simply by calling 1-800-WETLAND." New this year is the option of obtaining the HIP number on-line.
The phone call and HIP number are free. In addition, this system is available 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Hunters must have their hunting license ready when calling for a HIP number. After calling, the HIP number should be written in the space provided on the front of the hunting license. The HIP number is valid until the end of the hunting season on March 10, 2000. The information provided by sportsmen and women is confidential and will only be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for conducting harvest surveys to better manage migratory game bird populations.
Click to view the 1999-2000 migratory bird hunting season dates on-line. The 1999-2000 Migratory Bird Regulations will be available at Division offices, license agents and sporting goods stores throughout the state in September.