Setting Regulations for Waterfowl and Other Migratory Bird Hunting
Establishment and approval of hunting seasons for waterfowl and other migratory birds is controlled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The criteria for selection of waterfowl seasons are provided by the USFWS in early August. Using these criteria, we offer the Commission and the Director proposed seasons based on population information available from continental and local duck and goose breeding grounds and preferences of Michigan hunters.
Population and Season Conditions
The Michigan goose harvest consists of primarily resident giant Canada geese and migrant Canada geese from the Mississippi Valley Population (MVP). Migrant geese from the Southern James Bay Population (SJBP) and the Tall Grass Prairie Population also make up a minor component of the harvest. The MVP is managed by the USFWS and Mississippi Flyway states using an annual quota system. Michigan exceeded its harvest quota of MVP Canada geese during the late 1990s. By beginning the regular goose season in early September (as of 1998), we have been able to shift harvest to resident giants and reduce MVP harvest so we no longer exceed our quotas.
Duck populations on the mid-continent prairie and parkland region nearly doubled between the early 1990s and recent years. Increases were largely due to higher levels of precipitation that improved breeding habitat conditions. In response, the USFWS expanded hunting opportunity by doubling the duck season length and daily limit. However, only about 20 percent of Michigan's duck harvest originates from the mid-continent, with the remainder coming from primarily Michigan and eastern Canada.
Most of Michigan's mallard and wood duck harvest is locally-produced, and other species important to Michigan hunters, such as green-winged teal, black ducks, buffleheads, and ring-necked ducks, are produced primarily in forested areas of eastern Canada. Michigan and northern Ontario have less productive, but more stable, waterfowl habitat conditions than the mid-continent prairie. Breeding populations have changed relatively little for most duck species nesting in Michigan and Ontario, with the exception of mallards. The Michigan breeding waterfowl survey has revealed a decline each year since 1998.
Working with waterfowl hunters, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has identified the following goals for waterfowl regulations in Michigan:
- Simplify regulations where possible.
- Distribute hunting effort to take advantage of waterfowl resources and
reduce hunter crowding.
- Maximize waterfowl hunting opportunity, especially for youths, by:
- ensuring season dates encompass maximum bird numbers and abundant species; and
- Maximize statewide hunter days.