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August 20, 2001


For more information contact:
Paul Castelli at 609-748-2047

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish and Wildlife today announced 2001-02 migratory bird hunting season regulations.

"With most duck populations near or above their long-term averages, Garden State hunters will enjoy the fifth consecutive year with a liberal duck hunting season framework," said division Director Bob McDowell. "Sportsmen who are willing to travel will be able to hunt ducks in at least one of New Jersey's three waterfowl zones from October 13, 2001 until January 19, 2002."

"Habitat conditions from the traditional survey areas of mid-continent North America, critical to the reproductive success of waterfowl, increased 18 percent from 2000 levels, similar to the long-term (1974-2000) average," said Paul Castelli, supervising wildlife biologist and leader of the Division's Waterfowl Ecology and Management Program. "Similarly, habitat conditions in eastern North America, where most Atlantic Flyway ducks are derived, were good to excellent in most areas."

However, McDowell cautioned, "Although a good fall flight of ducks is expected from mid-continent and eastern survey areas, healthy waterfowl populations don't necessarily guarantee excellent hunting. Many variables, particularly weather and local habitat conditions, often have a greater influence on waterfowl distribution than the size of a given year's fall flight."

Despite the good news for most species, the populations of pintails and scaup remain a concern to waterfowl managers. Pintails and scaup were estimated at 23 percent and 31 percent, respectively, below their long-term averages. Smaller bag limits remain in effect for these species. In addition, the canvasback population estimate declined 18 percent from 2000 and is near the long-term average of 563,000 birds. With an inherently small breeding population, the canvasback season was shortened in all flyways.

The daily bag limit in New Jersey will be 6 ducks and may not include more than 4 mallards (including no more than 2 hens), 4 bufflehead, 4 scoters, 3 scaup, 2 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 1 pintail and 1 black duck.. Black ducks will be legal for the duration of the duck season in all zones. The canvasback season in New Jersey was reduced to 20 days in each zone at which time the bag limit will be 1 bird. The canvasback season will be closed at all other times.

A total of 146,700 breeding pairs of Atlantic Population or "migrant" Canada geese were estimated from surveys during June 2001 in northern Quebec. This population has rebounded significantly from the low of 29,000 breeding pairs estimated in 1995 with an annual population increase of 23 percent per year since that time. Overall, nesting conditions for migrant Canada geese on the Ungava Peninsula were excellent with early snowmelt and high densities of nesting geese.

With a high population of breeding adult geese and predicted excellent production, the regular season for Canada geese was doubled both in season length and bag limit. For 2001-02, a 30-day season with a 2-goose bag limit will be permitted in New Jersey. Additionally in New Jersey, the 2001 September Canada Goose Season will be held on a statewide basis from September 1-29. The Special Winter Canada Goose Season will be held January 21 to February 15, 2002 with the same hunt area boundaries as last year. Bag limits during both the September and Special Winter seasons will be 5 Canada geese per day. Both seasons are targeted at resident geese that now number over 1 million birds in the Atlantic Flyway. There will be no special permit requirements for sportsmen to participate in these seasons.

The Atlantic brant population was near average based on winter counts in January 2001. Breeding conditions for Atlantic brant were good due to early ice-out and snowmelt in the eastern Canadian arctic. Although considerable on a very local scale, the undiagnosed brant mortalities observed in Atlantic and Cape May Counties during this past fall and winter evidently had little impact on the total brant population. The brant season will remain at 50 days with a 2-brant per day bag limit.

Snow geese remain at exceptionally high levels. Biologists remain 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 impacts the snow geese themselves as well as other wildlife dependent on the arctic ecosystem. In addition, young production for snow geese in 2001 is expected to be above average. The season length for snow geese is already 107 days, the longest allowed under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. 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 or by registering on the division's Website at:"

The phone call and HIP number are free. In addition, this system is operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Hunters need to have their hunting license ready when calling for their HIP number. After calling, the HIP number should be written in the space provided on the front of their hunting license. The HIP number is valid from September 1, 2001 until March 10, 2002. The information provided by sportsmen and women is confidential and will only be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for conducting migratory bird harvest surveys.

The 2001-02 migratory bird hunting season dates follow. Although they are not expected to change, these dates are tentative until approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in mid-September. The 2001-02 Migratory Bird Regulations will be available at division offices, license agents and sporting goods stores throughout the state in September.


Consult the NJ 2001-2002 Migratory Bird Regulations for final details.