With input from hunters and new scientific research, changes are coming to the 2021 migratory bird hunting season. 

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board (NRB) voted unanimously for the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to move forward with proposed rules for the 2021 migratory bird season framework and regulations.

Highlights from the approved 2021 season structure include:

• A new Open Water Zone has been created in the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, and the former Mississippi River Zone has been absorbed into the South Zone.

• The South Canada Goose Zone has a daily bag limit of three Canada geese during the first portion of the season (Sept. 16-Oct. 10 and Oct. 16-Dec. 5), and a daily bag limit of five Canada geese during the Holiday Hunt (Dec. 20-Jan. 4, 2022).

• Based on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s season framework, there will be a scaup bag limit of one scaup for 15 days (Sept. 15-Oct. 9 in the North Zone) and two scaup for 45 days (Oct 10-Nov. 23 in the North Zone).

“The 2021 season frameworks are based on the most current scientific data, as well as input from the public, conservation and hunting groups and results from a waterfowl hunter survey,” said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist. “We used all the tools in our toolbox to collect public input while adhering to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Virtual meetings and expanded online outreach increased our engagement with our customers. In total, we received more than 1,500 comments regarding the 2021 waterfowl season proposals.”

The public plays a crucial role in setting the waterfowl season structure, according to Finger.

Other 2021 season highlights include:

• Early seasons for teal, Sept. 1-9, six birds per day; goose, Sept. 1-15, five birds; mourning doves, Sept. 1-Nov. 29, 15 birds; and woodcock, Sept. 25-Nov. 8, three birds.

• Duck season dates of: youth hunt, Sept. 18-19; North Zone, Sept. 25-Nov. 23; South Zone, Oct 2-10 and Oct. 16-Dec. 5; and Open Water Zone, Oct. 16-Dec. 14.

The daily bag limit is six ducks, including no more than four mallards (only two may be hens), two black duck, two canvasback, three wood duck, one pintail, two redhead, five merganser and six of any duck species not specifically listed.

The regular goose season in the North Zone will be Sept. 16 through Dec. 16 with a daily bag limit of three Canada geese per day the entire season. 

Hunters are reminded that opening day shooting hours will begin one-half hour before sunrise for all regular waterfowl hunting seasons.

To learn more about waterfowl hunting in Wisconsin, visit dnr. wi.gov.