The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) today announced the dates for the 2011-2012 migratory bird hunting seasons, which include seasons for hunting ducks, geese, woodcock, snipe, and rails. Specific details on season dates, bag limits, regulations, and other reminders are published in the 2011-2012 Migratory Bird Hunting Guide, which will be available from DEEP and town clerk offices by early September. The guide also may be found on the DEEP’s Web site at www.ct.gov/dep/hunting. Hunters need to remember that they must purchase a new Connecticut Duck Stamp for the portion of the seasons that occur in the 2012 calendar year. September Canada Goose Season The September Canada goose season will be held in the North Zone (portion of the state north of Interstate 95) from September 1-2 and September 6-30, 2011. The season in the South Zone (portion of the state south of Interstate 95) will run from September 15-30, 2011. The daily bag limit remains at 15 geese. The September goose season provides the opportunity to harvest resident Canada geese that breed and spend the majority of their lives in Connecticut. The season is scheduled at a time when most migrant geese have not yet entered the state. Connecticut’s growing resident goose population continues to cause substantial nuisance problems. The September season affords the opportunity to harvest these birds.
Ducks, Mergansers, and Coots Duck numbers continue to be high, and production was average this year. The North Zone early duck season opens October 12 and runs through October 22, 2011. The South Zone early season opens October 12 and runs through October 15, 2011. The late North Zone season will be November 9, 2011, through January 5, 2012. The late South Zone season will be November 18, 2011, through January 21, 2012.
The sea duck season in the coastal areas and streams seaward of the first upstream bridge has been set for September 20, 2011, to January 21, 2012. Due to continued concern over the status of sea duck populations and increasing hunting pressure, the total sea duck bag limit remains at five.
The Atlantic brant season will be from November 9, 2011, through January 5, 2012, in the North Zone and November 25, 2011, through January 21, 2012, in the South Zone, with a two-bird daily bag limit.
Legal shooting hours for all waterfowl hunting (except for the September Canada goose season) are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset. The September Canada goose season legal shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset.
Regular and Late Canada Goose Seasons The North Atlantic Population (NAP) Canada goose hunt zone was split into two zones, the NAP L-Unit and the NAP H-Unit, in 2002. These zones were created to exert more harvest pressure on resident geese in areas where nuisance problems persist. These zones were changed for the 2008-2009 hunting season to account for changes in distribution of migrant and resident Canada geese. The NAP L-Unit was removed, and a new zone, the Atlantic Flyway Resident Population (AFRP) zone, was created. The same units are in place for the 2011-2012 season. The descriptions of the AFRP, NAP H-Unit, and AP (Atlantic Population) Unit are as follows:
AP Unit: Litchfield County and the portion of Hartford County, west of a line beginning at the Massachusetts border in Suffield and extending south along Route 159 to its intersection with Interstate 91 in Hartford, and then extending south along Interstate 91 to its intersection with the Hartford/Middlesex County line.
AFRP Unit: Starting at the intersection of Interstate 95 and the Quinnipiac River excluding the east shore, north on the Quinnipiac River to its intersection with Interstate 91, north on Interstate 91 to Interstate 691, west on Interstate 691 to the Hartford County line, and encompassing the rest of New Haven County and Fairfield County in its entirety. NAP H-Unit: All of the rest of the state not included in the AP or AFRP descriptions above. The AFRP unit will have an 80-day season with a five-bird daily bag limit. The NAP H-Unit will have a 60-day season with a two-bird bag limit. The NAP breeding population was still below the 2001-2005 average, which precluded a liberalization of the season in 2011-2012. The regular goose season in the AFRP Unit will be divided into three periods. The first period will run from October 12-22, 2011. The second period will run from November 9, 2011, to January 21, 2012. The final period will run from February 9, 2012, to February 15, 2012. In the NAP H-Unit, the regular goose season, in both the North and South Zones, will be divided in two. The first period will run from October 12-25, 2011, while the second will run from November 21, 2011, to January 14, 2012.
The 45-day season in the AP Unit will be divided into two periods. The first period will run from October 31 to November 5, 2011, while the second will run from November 24, 2011, to January 7, 2012. The daily bag limit will be three geese.
Sportsmen also will have the opportunity to harvest resident Canada geese during the special late season (in the South Zone only) from January 16 through February 15, 2012. The bag limit during the late season is five geese, and no special permit is required for this season. Hunters are urged to read the goose zone descriptions. The AFRP zone contains part of the old South Zone (west of the Quinnipiac River), and the AFRP zone is open to goose hunting in January and February.
The dates for the snow goose season in the North Zone are October 1, 2011, to January 14, 2012, and from February 22 to March 10, 2012. In the South Zone, the snow goose season will run from October 1 to November 30, 2011, and then from January 7 to March 10, 2012.
Youth Waterfowl Hunting Training Days Connecticut will hold two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Training Days on Saturday, October 1, and Saturday, November 5, 2011. This is the first time that the Youth Waterfowl Days did not have to be held consecutively. It is hoped that the two separate days, scheduled at times when migrant waterfowl are abundant, will encourage more youth hunters to participate. Participants must be 15 years of age or younger, possess a valid junior small game hunting license and a HIP permit, and be accompanied by an adult at least 18 years of age. Adults must possess a valid hunting license; however, they are not allowed to hunt waterfowl. Ducks, geese, mergansers, and coots may be hunted. Bag limits and shooting hours are the same as for the regular duck and goose hunting seasons.
Woodcock, Snipe, and Rail Seasons An additional 15 days were added to the woodcock hunting season this year. Opening day for woodcock and snipe hunting will be October 27 and the season will run until December 10, 2011. The rail season will be divided into two periods. The first period is from September 1-2, 2011, and the second is from September 6 to November 12, 2011. Bag limits for the 2011 season are the same as last year: daily limit is three and possession limit is six.
A Few Reminders All waterfowl hunters are reminded that, in addition to obtaining a hunting license, they are required to obtain an annual Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit. Waterfowl hunters 16 years of age or older also are required to purchase a federal Duck Stamp and a Connecticut Duck Stamp. Federal Duck Stamps are available from many local post offices for $15.00. Connecticut Duck Stamps ($13.00) and HIP permits ($4.00) can be purchased at all Connecticut town clerks’ offices and on-line at www.ct.gov/dep/sportsmenlicensing. A HIP permit also is required to hunt woodcock, snipe, coot, and rails. To accommodate changes made by the State Legislature to the Connecticut Duck Stamp, the DEEP issued a 2010-2011 Duck Stamp with hunting privileges that began on July 1, 2010 and will end on December 31, 2011. Beginning in January 2012, the annual Duck Stamp will be valid for the calendar year (January 1-December 31). Along with the purchase of a Duck Stamp, an additional $2.00 donation can be made to the Migratory Bird Conservation Fund. Hunters are reminded to report waterfowl bands. Band return information provides vital information for the continued sound management of the waterfowl resource. Please report bands to the USGS by calling 1-800-427-BAND or on the Internet at www.reportband.gov.