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Rationale for Waterfowl Hunting Seasons

Northeastern Zone
Duck Hunting Season 2013-14

Regular Season Dates:
Oct 5 (Sat) - Oct 13 (Sun) & Oct 26 (Sat) - Dec 15 (Sun)

Youth Days:
Sept 21 (Sat) & Sept 22 (Sun)

The Northeastern Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 6, 2013, 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 nine-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.
  • The Task Force felt opening the second split on the same day that the regular Canada goose season opens provides the best opportunity to harvest both ducks and geese at the same time.
  • There will be a 12-day break in hunting between the Youth Hunting Days on September 21 and 22 and the beginning of the regular duck season on October 5. 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 two holidays of duck hunting.

Southeastern Zone
Duck Hunting Season 2013-14

Regular Season Dates:
Oct 12 (Sat) - Oct 20 (Sun) & Nov 17 (Sun) - Jan 6 (Mon)

Youth Days:
Sept 28 (Sat) & Sept 29 (Sun)

The Southeastern Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 13, 2013, 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 (7 full weekends) and holiday time (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Day), and opens when many additional ducks are migrating into the zone. The Sunday opener was chosen to avoid conflict with the opening day of Southern Zone Regular Deer Season.
  • Late December and early January 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 28 and 29 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 2013-14

Regular Season Dates:
Oct 26 (Sat) - Dec 8 (Sun) & Dec 28 (Sat) - Jan 12 (Sun)

Youth Days:
Oct 12 (Sat) & Oct 13 (Sun)

The Western Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 27, 2013, 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 of a maximum of 60 days in the 2013-14 season. 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 strongly prefers the split season for the Western Zone.
  • The split season structure allows the best opportunity for the diverse waterfowl hunting interests in the Western Zone. This year's 44-16 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 will provide the best compromise in giving all types of waterfowl hunting opportunity throughout the zone.
  • The USF&WS framework also set the outside dates for beginning and ending of the 2013-14 duck season as Sept. 21, 2013 and Jan. 26, 2014 (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 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. We welcome other opinions and observations through direct contact throughout the year or via the email link on the DEC website.
  • The task force members characterized their conversations with other hunters and organization members as supportive of last year's season.
  • 10 full weekends of hunting opportunity are provided. The first split provides 44 days with 7 full weekends and the entire Thanksgiving holiday. The second split provides 16 hunting days and 3 full weekends. Weekend dates were maximized to allow opportunity for working adults and school-aged hunters to participate.
  • 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.
  • Surveys show that waterfowl hunters desire to have the duck and goose seasons open on the same day. 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 26, 2013). The task force placed a high priority on opening the duck season on the same day as the goose season.
  • The opening date of October 26 provides opportunity to hunt ducks migrating through the zone as a priority over hunting locally-produced waterfowl and early migrants. Although local birds should still be available initially, the task force acknowledges that an earlier start date was requested by some marsh and small water hunters. However, we did not feel that an earlier start date would provide the best hunting opportunity for the entirety of the Western Zone. Concerns expressed over an earlier start date were: (a) observations of a trend in later migrations and milder fall and winter weather; (b) a decline in hunting success after the first few days with an early to mid October opener because the hunting pressure causes local birds to leave the area and larger numbers of migrant ducks would not arrive in the zone for several weeks; and (c) the desire for opportunity in the first week of December. This December time is important to hunters in the Western Zone for the likelihood of strong migrations, and for opportunity on smaller lakes that typically freeze over in mid December.
  • The 16-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 6 weekend days when young hunters are off from school and many adults are off from work. The task force believes the December 28 (Sat) opening is preferable to the weekdays after Christmas Day when many hunters do not have time off or would be involved in other activities.
  • Youth Days are October 12 & 13 (Sat and Sun) and will provide a break of 12 days before the regular season starts. It will also match the youth pheasant season which will enhance opportunity to promote these important times in the field with young hunters. The task force preferred to avoid the youth deer season on Columbus Day weekend as a more likely conflict of interest for youth and mentors.
  • The opening date of October 26 avoids overlapping the pheasant opener (scheduled for October 19th this year).

Long Island Zone
Duck Hunting Season 2013-14

Regular Season Dates:
Nov 28 (Thurs) - Jan 26 (Sun)

Youth Days:
Nov 9 (Sat) & Nov 10 (Sun)

The Long Island Zone Waterfowl Hunter Task Force met on April 27, 2013, 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 26th.
  • The Youth Hunting Days on November 9 and 10 allow a break of more than 2 full weeks before the start of the regular season and 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 2013-14 Canada Goose Hunting Seasons

West Central Canada Goose Hunting Area- (50 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 26 (Sat) - Nov 24 (Sun) & Dec 28 (Sat) - Jan 16 (Thurs)

  • 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 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, lower bag and a season start date no earlier than the fourth Saturday in October - have been prescribed as a result.
  • Hunters in the West Central Area have a strong desire to hunt Canada geese whenever the duck hunting season is open.
  • The first split begins on the earliest possible date for regular season Canada goose hunting in New York State - the fourth Saturday in October and will also start with the opening of the Western Zone duck season.
  • The second split is set to coincide with the second split of the Western Zone duck season, running the 16 days, including 6 weekend days, plus an additional 4 days of late opportunity.
  • The West Central Canada goose Hunt Area season cannot exceed 50 days. Consequently, the first split of 30 days will end on November 24 (Sun) and the second split of 20 days will end on January 16 (Thurs).

Northeast Canada Goose Hunting Area- (50 days)

Regular Season Dates: Oct 26 (Sat) Nov 17 (Sun) & Nov 19 (Tues) - Dec 15 (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 26th in 2013) - 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. 18) to maximize weekend hunting opportunity.
  • The season ends on December 15. 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 26 (Sat) - Nov 15 (Fri) & Nov 23 (Sat) - Dec 21 (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 26th in 2013) - 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 16, the day before the opening day of the Southern Zone deer gun season (Saturday, Nov 16) 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 26 (Sat) - Nov 15 (Fri) & Dec 7 (Sat) - Jan 4 (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 26th in 2013) - 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 15, the day before the opening day of the Southern Zone deer gun season (Saturday, Nov 16) preventing potential interference between the two hunting activities.
  • The second split begins in early December when both Atlantic Population and Resident Population Canada geese are still very abundant in the Hudson Valley Area. The split concludes the Saturday after the New Years Day holiday, 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 26 (Sat) - Dec 18 (Wed) & Dec 28 (Sat) - Jan 12 (Sun) & Mar 1 (Sat) - Mar 10 (Mon)
  • 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 54 days into mid December. Resident Population Canada geese are abundant throughout the entire area during this period.
  • The second split begins on the Saturday after Christmas and maximizes weekend hunting opportunity.
  • The second split also matches the later split of the Western Zone duck season.
  • A third split in early March is available for the fifth consecutive 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 5 (Sat) - Oct 20 (Sun) & Nov 28 (Thurs) - Feb 26 (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 24 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 15 days in October provides the early hunting season opportunity that was lost the last few years.
  • The second split will coincide with the Long Island Zone Duck season and runs until the end of February.

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

Regular Season Dates: Nov 28 (Thurs) - Feb 5 (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 (Tues) - Jan 31 (Fri)
  • 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- (7 days)

Special Season Dates: Feb 6 (Thurs) - Feb 12 (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 12th creating a continuation of the regular season in this portion of Long Island.