INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is proposing the same number of days as last year for waterfowl hunting season in all three zones – 60 days for ducks and 74 for Canada geese – but is recommending a change in how those days are distributed in the state's North Zone.
The North Zone will be split into two segments for hunting of ducks, coots and mergansers, and into three segments for Canada geese. In recent years, North Zone duck hunting dates ran consecutively and the Canada goose season was in two segments.
"If you go straight through for 60 days in the North Zone duck season, it would open on a Saturday and close on a Tuesday," said Adam Phelps, waterfowl biologist for DNR Fish & Wildlife. "So, we moved the two extra days to later, basically to try to give a weekend to those folks who want to hunt late."
The dates are not final until approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in mid to late September. Historically, dates have been accepted as proposed. The DNR's recommended dates for ducks, coots and mergansers are:
· North Zone, Oct. 15 to Dec. 11, and Dec. 24-25
· South Zone, Oct. 22-30, and Nov. 23 to Jan. 12
· Ohio River Zone, Oct. 29-30, and Nov. 26 to Jan. 22
For Canada geese, the proposed dates are:
· North Zone, Oct. 15 to Nov. 6, Nov. 23 to Jan. 8, and Jan. 14-17
· South Zone, Oct. 22-30 and Nov 23 to Jan. 26
· Ohio River Zone, Oct. 29-30 and Nov. 21 to Jan. 31
"What we've done in the past (for Canada geese) is open for two days in the North Zone, close until November, and then resume," Phelps said. "We've gotten feedback from hunters who want to hunt over open water. So we gave them more days early, then a break, and then went as lateas we have in the past. We're trying to keep pressure on Canada geese in late January, but still give the folks who want to hunt over open water a chance as well."
The North Zone is that part of Indiana north of a line extending east from the Illinois border along Indiana 18 to U.S. 31; north along U.S. 31 to U.S. 24; east on U.S. 24 to Huntington; and southeast on U.S. 224 to the Ohio border.
The South Zone is the area south of that line but north of the Ohio River Zone.
The Ohio River Zone is that portion of Indiana south of a line extending east from the Illinois border along Interstate 64 to New Albany; east on Indiana 62 to Indiana 56; east on Indiana 56 to Vevay; along Indiana 156 to North Landing; north on Indiana 56 to U.S. 50; and northeast on U.S. 50 to the Ohio border.
The daily bag limit for ducks in all zones is six, including no more than four mallards (of which no more than two can be hens), three wood ducks, two pintails, two redheads, two scaup, one canvasback, one black duck, and one mottled duck. The possession limit is twice the daily bag limit.
The daily bag limit for Canada geese in all zones is two with a possession limit of four.
DNR also has proposed a 15-day late season for Canada geese from Feb. 1-15 in selected areas. Indiana conducted what was scheduled as a three-year experiment authorized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to target resident giant Canada geese without negatively impacting migratory geese. Last season was the third year of the experiment, and although most areas achieved the USFWS requirement that at least 80 percent of the late season harvest consist of resident giant Canada geese, areas around Terre Haute reported only 78 percent.
"So now we're in a holding pattern, but they are letting us continue to evaluate," Phelps said.
Consequently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will authorize the late season only in the same counties as previous years. Those counties are: Adams, Allen, Boone, Clay, DeKalb, Elkhart, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Huntington, Johnson, Kosciusko, LaGrange, LaPorte, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan, Noble, Parke, St. Joseph, Shelby, Steuben, Starke, Sullivan, Vermillion, Vigo, Wells and Whitley.
Special restrictions apply; a free permit is required. The daily bag limit is five, and the possession limit is 10.
Statewide season dates for light geese and brant are Oct. 15 to Jan. 27. The bag limit is 20 light geese (snow and/or Ross' geese) and one brant. The possession limit is two brant. There is no possession limit on light geese.
Statewide season dates for white-fronted geese are Oct. 15 to Nov. 6 and Nov. 23 to Jan. 26. The daily bag limit is one, and the possession limit is two.