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Rationale for Waterfowl Hunting Seasons

Northeastern Zone
Duck Hunting Season 2014-15

Regular Season Dates:
Oct 4 (Sat) - Oct 19 (Sun) & Nov 1 (Sat) - Dec 14 (Sun)

Youth Days:
Sept 20 (Sat) & Sept 21 (Sun)

The Northeastern Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 5, 2014 to develop recommendations for duck season and youth waterfowl hunting dates. They provided the following rationale for the above dates:

  • A split season structure starting in early October and ending in mid December was developed to provide ample hunting opportunity for the diverse gunning interests in the zone, ranging from very early season hunting on Adirondack beaver ponds to late season hunting on the large waters of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Very few Northeastern Zone hunters desire seasons to be open after mid December.

  • There is great interest throughout the entire Northeastern Zone to open the season on the first Saturday in October. Nearly 70% of duck hunters in this zone favor a weekend opener, and the first Saturday has essentially become a traditional opening day for the Northeastern Zone.

  • The 16 day first split provides hunting opportunity for local ducks and early migrating birds that have moved into the zone. The later, longer second split allows hunting for birds that begin heavy migration movements into the zone in late October. Hearty ducks, such as mallards and divers, continue to stay in the larger open water areas until mid December.

  • Closing the season for more than a week after the first split closes takes hunting pressure off the remaining local and early migrant ducks and allows new arriving birds in later October to "settle in" before hunting resumes.

  • The opening of the second split coincides with the typical peak of duck migration starting in late October and continuing into November. Hunting in early to mid December is favored by Oneida Lake and St. Lawrence River hunters, but harvest opportunities after that become very limited in most years.

  • There will be a 12-day break in hunting between the Youth Hunting Days on September 20 and 21 and the beginning of the regular duck season on October 4. The September Canada goose season will be open at the same time as the Youth Hunting Days so that adult mentors will also have some opportunity to harvest game.

  • The season maximizes weekend hunting opportunity with ten full weekends and three holidays of duck hunting.

Southeastern Zone
Duck Hunting Season 2014-15

Regular Season Dates:
Oct 11 (Sat) - Oct 19 (Sun) & Nov 8 (Sun) - Dec 28 (Sun)

Youth Days:
Sept 27 (Sat) & Sept 28 (Sun)

The Southeastern Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 12, 2014 to develop recommendations for duck season and youth waterfowl hunting dates. They provided the following rationale for the above dates:

  • The split season structure of 9 days in early October and 51 days starting in mid November has been used for a number of years and seems to be satisfactory to most hunters in this zone. Southeastern Zone duck hunters generally prefer the season to be open from early to mid October and extending to late December.

  • The first split includes two full weekends and a holiday providing ample early season hunting opportunity for locally produced ducks and waterfowl that migrate early and stop in the zone. Closing the season for more than two weeks after the close of the first split takes hunting pressure off the remaining local and early migrant ducks and allows new arriving birds to "settle in" before hunting resumes.

  • The second split also maximizes weekend hunting opportunity (8 full weekends) and holiday time (Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas), and opens when many additional ducks are migrating into the zone.

  • Late December hunting days are set to coincide with a later wave of duck migration and concentration of wintering birds that occurs at that time.

  • The Youth Hunting Days on the weekend of September 27 and 28 provides for a two week break before the regular season starts. The weekend after the Northeastern Zone Youth Hunting Days was chosen to give youth hunters an opportunity to hunt the youth days of both zones.

Western Zone
Duck Hunting Season 2014-15

Regular Season Dates:
Oct 18 (Sat) - Dec 2 (Tues) & Dec 27 (Sat) - Jan 9 (Fri)

Youth Days:
Oct 4 (Sat) & Oct 5 (Sun)

The Western Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 26th, 2014 to develop recommendations for waterfowl hunting season dates. They provided the following rationale for the above dates:

  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service, which has management authority on migratory birds, provided a framework for setting the 2014-15 duck season by posting the outside dates for beginning and ending as Sept. 27, 2014 and Jan. 25, 2015 (128 days). The Task Force was charged with setting the 60-day season within the 128-day framework in a manner that provides the best opportunity for hunting waterfowl in the Western Zone.

  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service also provided a framework of a maximum of 60 days in the 2014-15 duck season. This is the most liberal season allowed and is based on tentative assessments of waterfowl population status and harvest projections. The framework allows a 60-consecutive day season ("straight season") or one divided into two blocks of time totaling 60 days ("split season"). The Service does not allow dividing the season into more than two blocks (while keeping NY's 5 zones). The task force believes the split season structure allows the best opportunity for the diverse waterfowl hunting interests in the Western Zone.

  • This year's 46-14 split season is designed to accommodate avid and occasional waterfowl hunters, and those who hunt marshes and smaller bodies of water as well as those that hunt the big waters in all the regions of the western zone from the Southern Tier to Lake Ontario and from the Niagara River to the Finger Lakes. The season cannot accommodate all those interests for the entirety of the open seasons, but provides the best compromise in giving all types of waterfowl hunting opportunity throughout the zone.

  • The task force members characterized their conversations with other hunters and members of their respective waterfowl organizations as moderately supportive of last year's season, despite a colder than usual fall and winter. The loss of hunting opportunity due to ice-up on marsh and smaller bodies of water was noted as the most common complaint.

  • The task force desires to cover the peak of duck migration in the Western Zone. We use all available harvest and observational data, and combine this with personal experience to determine these peak days. The task force also acknowledges hunter's varying interest in the types of hunts and species targeted, in particular, this resulted in this year's decision for an earlier start date. This change was made to provide more opportunity to harvest local birds.

  • Nine full weekends of hunting opportunity are provided. The first split provides 46 days with 7 full weekends and the entire Thanksgiving holiday. The second split provides 14 hunting days and 2 full weekends.

  • Opening day is scheduled for a Saturday as surveys have shown a weekend opening date is preferred by a majority of hunters in the Western Zone. The second split also opens on a Saturday, when most hunters will be off from work and school.

  • The task force did not choose to open the duck season on the same day as the goose season. Although this is generally thought to be preferred by most waterfowl hunters, the task force's desire to have earlier duck hunting opportunity was stronger this year. Current policy for hunting the migrant Atlantic population of Canada geese requires that the goose season opens no earlier than the fourth Saturday in October (Oct 25, 2014), and that was believed to be too late of an opener for ducks. This was based on comments and requests received for expanded hunting opportunity on locally-produced waterfowl and early migrants. As always, hunters will have to take notice of which species are legal targets.

  • Opportunity to take late migrants in early December was a preference of task force members. This timeframe has a good likelihood of strong migrations, and opportunity on smaller lakes that typically freeze over in mid December.

  • The 14-day second split, beginning in late December, will provide opportunity to hunt waterfowl on the larger waters and rivers that do not freeze over. The January days provide excellent late-season hunting valued by many Finger Lakes hunters. Surveys show that Western Zone duck hunters find late December to mid January nearly as important as late October to mid November.

  • The second split includes 2 fewer weekend days than last year. Although the task force prefers to offer weekend opportunity when young hunters are off from school and many adults are off from work, a compromise had to be made to provide an earlier start date and some amount of early December opportunity.

  • The task force believes the December 27 (Sat) opening is preferable to the weekday after Christmas Day (Friday, Dec. 26th) when many hunters do not have time off or would be involved in other Holiday activities.

  • Youth Days are October 4 & 5 (Sat and Sun) and will provide a break of 12 days before the regular season starts. These dates will precede by one week, the youth pheasant and youth deer dates. Avoiding overlap of these youth hunts will provide more opportunity in the field for young hunters and their mentors.

Long Island Zone
Duck Hunting Season 2014-15

Regular Season Dates:
Nov 27 (Thurs) - Jan 25 (Sun)

Youth Days:
Nov 22 (Sat) & Nov 23 (Sun)

The Long Island Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 12, 2014 to develop recommendations for duck season and youth waterfowl hunting dates. They provided the following rationale for the above dates:

  • Duck hunting starting in late November and ending in late January provides the most opportunity for the diverse waterfowl hunting interests in the zone.

  • The season opens on Thanksgiving Day which has been a part of Long Island's duck season for many years in the past.

  • The season runs late and straight to coincide with peak numbers of migrating waterfowl coming into the zone. Also, many of the inland ponds are frozen over during late December and January which encourages ducks to move to coastal waters where they are more accessible to hunters.

  • The latest possible hunting season dates typically provide the best and most consistent hunting success for Long Island hunters. Federal regulations require that duck hunting must stop on the last Sunday in January. This year that date is the 25th.

  • The Youth Hunting Days on November 22 and 23 are set later this year, the weekend before the start of the regular season, to allow the participants to harvest local and early migrating waterfowl. The milder weather in November should encourage greater participation by young hunters while ensuring a better opportunity for youth to harvest ducks as greater numbers of early migrants will be in the zone.


Rationale for 2014-15 Canada Goose Hunting Seasons

West Central Canada Goose Hunting Area- (50 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 25 (Sat) - Nov 27 (Thu) & Dec 27 (Sat) - Jan 11 (Sun)

  • Goose management in this Hunt Area is focused on the migrant Atlantic Population of Canada geese. These geese breed in northern Quebec, migrate through New York State in the fall, and mostly spend their winters along the Atlantic coast. The number of birds in this population is below the flyway objective. Harvest restrictions - including reduced number of hunt days (50-day maximum), lower bag and a season start date no earlier than the fourth Saturday in October - have been prescribed as a result.
  • The first split begins on the earliest possible date for regular season Canada goose hunting in New York State - the fourth Saturday in October. Hunters in the West Central Area generally prefer to match the 50 days of the goose season to whenever the 60-day duck hunting season is open. However, this year it will not start with the opening of the Western Zone duck season due to the Task Force's interest in providing earlier opportunity for hunting ducks. There will be a week in the early season when the goose season will not be open when ducks are open.
  • The first split ends on Thanksgiving Day, allowing goose hunters the opportunity for a popular family tradition of pursuing a 'thanksgiving goose'.
  • The second split is set to coincide with the second split of the Western Zone duck season, and will also provide 2 additional weekend days at the end when ducks are closed. The Task Force felt the late opportunity would be favored over November opportunity. The second split runs 16 days, and includes 6 weekend days. There will be two days at the end of the season (Jan 10 & 11) when duck season is closed but goose season is open.

Northeast Canada Goose Hunting Area- (50 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 25 (Sat) - Nov 16 (Sun) & Nov 18 (Tues) - Dec 14 (Sun)
  • Goose management in this Hunt Area is focused on the migrant Atlantic Population Canada geese. These geese breed in northern Quebec, migrate through New York State in fall and mostly winter along the Atlantic coast. The number of birds in this population is below the Atlantic Flyway objective. Harvest restrictions - including reduced number of hunt days, lower bag limits, and a later start date of the fourth Saturday in October (the 25th in 2014) - are necessary to encourage growth of this population.
  • The season begins on the earliest possible date for regular Canada goose hunting in New York State - the fourth Saturday in October - to take advantage of the abundance of geese in the Area in late October.
  • The season is split and closed for one day (Monday, Nov. 17) to maximize weekend hunting opportunity.
  • The season ends on December 14. Most lakes, ponds and streams freeze by mid December in this Area and there are fewer hunting opportunities after mid to late December.

East Central Canada Goose Hunting Area- (50 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 25 (Sat) - Nov 14 (Fri) & Nov 22 (Sat) - Dec 20 (Sat)
  • Goose management in this Hunt Area is focused on the migrant Atlantic Population Canada geese. These geese breed in northern Quebec, migrate through New York State in fall and mostly winter along the Atlantic coast. The number of birds in this population is below the Atlantic Flyway objective. Harvest restrictions - including reduced number of hunt days, lower bag limits, and a later start date of the fourth Saturday in October (the 25th in 2014) - are necessary to encourage growth of this population.
  • The season begins on the earliest possible date for regular Canada goose hunting in New York State - the fourth Saturday in October - to take advantage of the abundance of geese in the Area in late October.
  • The first split ends on Friday, November 14, the day before the opening day of the Southern Zone deer gun season (Saturday, Nov 15) preventing potential interference between the two hunting activities.
  • The second split opens after a full week of closure during the deer gun season. The season continues until mid December providing hunting opportunity during a time when many Canada geese are still available to hunters in this area.

Hudson Valley Canada Goose Hunting Area- (50 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 25 (Sat) - Nov 14 (Fri) & Nov 29 (Sat) - Dec 27 (Sat)
  • Goose management in this Hunt Area is focused on the migrant Atlantic Population Canada geese. These geese breed in northern Quebec, migrate through New York State in fall and mostly winter along the Atlantic coast. The number of birds in this population is below the Atlantic Flyway objective. Harvest restrictions - including reduced number of hunt days, lower bag limits, and a later start date of the fourth Saturday in October (the 25th in 2014) - are necessary to encourage growth of this population.
  • The season begins on the earliest possible date for regular Canada goose hunting in New York State - the fourth Saturday in October - to take advantage of the abundance of geese in the Area in late October.
  • The first split ends on Friday, November 14, the day before the opening day of the Southern Zone deer gun season (Saturday, Nov 15) preventing potential interference between the two hunting activities.
  • The second split opens on the weekend of Thanksgiving after a 2 week closure during the deer gun season when both Atlantic Population and Resident Population Canada geese are still very abundant in the Hudson Valley Area. The split concludes the Saturday after Christmas, a period when students and many workers are off and have the opportunity to hunt.

South Canada Goose Hunting Area- (80 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 25 (Sat) - Jan 1 (Thurs) & Feb 28 (Sat) - Mar 10 (Tue)
  • Canada goose management in this Hunt Area is focused on Resident Population Canada geese. These birds breed all throughout the lower United Sates and southern Canada. The population has grown steadily in recent years and is far over the objective set for New York State and the Atlantic Flyway. The birds in this population are the source of many nuisance problems for landowners, shoreline recreationists and farmers. Harvest management actions are designed to encourage high take of Resident Population geese.
  • The boundaries of this South Hunt Area have been established and refined by banding and harvest records to limit additional harvest of the migrant Atlantic population of Canada Geese and maximize the opportunity for goose hunting in NY. Through this process we have been able to identify areas that are free from migrant Atlantic population geese during the harvest seasons and then add those areas to the South Hunt Area with its more liberal season.
  • Federal regulations allow a maximum hunting season period of 107 days. The September Canada goose season is 25 days and Youth Days add 2 additional days. 80 days remain for the balance of the hunting season.
  • Federal regulations prohibit any regular hunting season from extending past March 10.
  • The season begins on the earliest possible date allowed by federal framework in New York State - the fourth Saturday in October.
  • The first split continues for 69 days to January 1st. Resident Population Canada geese are abundant throughout the entire area during this period. Most lakes, ponds and streams freeze by early January in this Area and there are fewer hunting opportunities after early to mid January.
  • The first split maximizes overlap with the Southeastern and Western Zone Duck seasons and provides ample weekend hunting opportunity.
  • A late season split in early March is available again this year. Late season hunting opportunity is planned to increase the take of Resident Population geese as they disperse from winter concentration areas. The number of days in this late season was set to offer more weekend opportunity.

Western Long Island Canada Goose Hunting Area- (105 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 11 (Sat) - Oct 19 (Sun) & Nov 27 (Thurs) - Mar 4 (Wed)
  • Canada goose management in this Hunt Area is focused on Resident Population Canada geese. These birds breed all throughout the lower United Sates and southern Canada. The population has grown steadily in recent years and is far over the objective set for New York State and the Atlantic Flyway. The birds in this population are the source of many nuisance problems for landowners, shoreline recreationists and farmers. Harvest management actions are designed to encourage high take of Resident Population geese.
  • Federal regulations allow a maximum hunting season period of 107 days. Subtracting 2 Youth Days leaves 105 days for the balance of the hunting season.
  • The September Canada goose season will be closed in this Area to eliminate potential conflicts with other water-based activities during this early season and allows for the 29 days to be utilized in the Regular Canada goose season.
  • A split season with early season dates in October is being offered this year to accommodate hunters disappointed by the loss of the September season in this Hunt Area.
  • The first split of 9 days in October provides the early hunting season opportunity that is desired by hunters in this area.
  • The second split will coincide with the Long Island Zone Duck season and runs until the beginning of March.

Central Long Island Canada Goose Hunting Area- (70 Days)

Regular Season Dates: Nov 27 (Thurs) - Feb 4 (Wed)
  • This Hunt Area is considered to be a "low harvest" area for North Atlantic Population geese. These geese breed in Labrador, Newfoundland and other areas of eastern Canada. Relatively few geese from that population occur in the Area. Harvest management is focused more on the removal of Resident population geese.
  • The season will coincide with the Long Island Zone Duck season and ends the day before the Special Late Canada Goose Hunting Season opens on the north shore, allowing those that hunt both seasons to get the maximum number of days in the field possible.

Eastern Long Island Canada Goose Hunting Area- (60 days)

Regular Season Dates: Dec 3 (Wed) - Jan 31 (Sat)
  • This Hunt Area is considered to be a "high harvest" area for migrant North Atlantic Population Canada geese. These geese breed in Labrador, Newfoundland and other areas of eastern Canada. Biologists believe that this population of birds is not reproducing at full potential and, therefore, harvest restrictions in the form of fewer hunt days is required.
  • The season is set to be late and straight, taking full advantage of the Federal framework for the North Atlantic Population goose hunting season.

Special Late Canada Goose Hunting Season- (6 days)

Special Season Dates: Feb 5 (Thurs) - Feb 10 (Wed)

• This special late season for the north shore of central Long Island further targets Resident Population geese. The dates for this season start after the close of the Regular Goose Season in the Central Long Island Goose Hunting Area and run as late as possible until Feb 10th creating a continuation of the regular season in this portion of Long Island.