News and Notes
CT Interactive Hunting Area Map (includes areas closed to waterfowl hunting)
Tides (weather and stream flows)
You can electronically sign your hunting and fishing license, which will allow you to keep a digitally signed copy on your smartphone instead of needing to have a signed printed copy!
Changes have occurred to HIP permits purchased through third-party license vendors. Learn how the changes affect you. There are no changes if you purchase your HIP permit through DEEP's Outdoor Licensing System.
- In spring 2022, a Continental waterfowl breeding survey was once again conducted. The Covid-19 pandemic finally eased enough to allow this critical survey to be conducted. This look at actual population statuses will inform just how well the models that allowed us to promulgate hunting seasons the past two years have performed. The general duck season in the Atlantic Flyway is now being set based on the collective status of 4 species (wood duck, ring-necked duck, American green-winged teal, and common goldeneye). This new approach results in a season setting process that much better accounts for all duck populations and the status of waterfowl habitat in the Atlantic Flyway. (More Information)
- The entire Atlantic Flyway is rolling the sea duck bag limit into the regular duck bag and allowing sea duck harvest only during the regular duck season. Further, the total bag limit for sea ducks (scoter, eider, old squaw) is reduced to 4 with no more than 3 of any one species. There will be a one hen eider limit. These changes are in response to continued declines in sea ducks, and the continued Atlantic Flyway goal of reducing overall sea duck harvest in the Flyway by 25%.
- The bag limit on hooded mergansers has been removed throughout the Atlantic Flyway.
- The implementation of a new mallard harvest strategy will determine annual mallard bag limits across the Atlantic Flyway. When conditions are favorable, this strategy will allow the mallard bag limit to be 4 birds. However, for the 2022-2023 season, the mallard bag limit will remain at 2, with 1 hen in the daily bag.
- The big change for Connecticut regulations involves the Atlantic Population (AP) Canada goose seasons. The regular season bag limit and season length across the entirety of the AP harvest zones in the Atlantic Flyway remain unchanged (30-day season, 1 bird bag). However, based upon goose distribution data from band returns, a late season will be enacted in the Connecticut AP harvest zone. This new late season targets Atlantic Flyway resident population geese and will begin in late December 2022 and run until February 15, 2023, with a daily bag limit of 5 geese.
- Connecticut will be using the entire framework for snipe hunting. Few hunters take advantage of this opportunity and the change allows those that do a bit more time in the field.
Please remember that black duck hybrids are classified as black ducks. With the new change in the mallard bag limit, and to reduce any confusion in the field, this move will reduce the chance of a mistake. (How to identify black ducks.)
Request for Connecticut Eider Hunters to Voluntarily Avoid Harvesting Hens and Young (Brown) Eiders this Season
Following an unusual episode of mortality caused by avian influenza this spring, the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) anticipates a decline in the number of common eiders in the St. Lawrence Estuary in 2023 and beyond. Many of these birds migrate south to winter in southern New England. In order not to further jeopardize the situation of the species, CWS is calling on the cooperation of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island hunters to:
- Reduce, on a voluntary basis, their harvest of common eiders for the 2022-23 season.
- Refrain from harvesting female common eiders or young. Females and young are brown in color, while males are white and black.
- For about 20 years, the population of common eiders nesting in Québec’s colonies in the St. Lawrence Estuary has been stable. One of the reasons the population is not increasing is that recruitment (percentage of young in the population) is probably just sufficient to replace adult mortality (from natural causes and hunting).
In spring 2022, an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (H5N1) struck at some of the largest eider colonies in the estuary, and a non-exhaustive count of carcasses recovered allowed CWS to estimate that between 5 and 15% of nesting females died. Many nests were abandoned by the females, and very few crèches (groupings of adult females with their broods) were observed in the estuary. As a result, CWS biologists expect the number of young birds for 2022 to be particularly low and the population to be lower in the coming years.
While daily bag for eiders in the Atlantic Flyway states is currently limited to no more than three, of which only one can be a hen, we are also asking Connecticut hunters to also voluntarily refrain from shooting "brown" eider.
Southern New England is the wintering terminus for many eiders breeding in Canada. It is irresponsible to ask Canadian hunters to forgo harvesting hens and young birds only to have them shot when they arrive here. In order to allow time for eiders to recover from the recent avian influenza outbreak (the same one that decimated the Northeast poultry industry and caused egg prices to skyrocket), we are asking our responsible waterfowl hunters to also pass on the hens and young eiders that cross in front of their barrels this year.
Notice for Waterfowl Hunters Traveling to Canada to Hunt
The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) implemented restrictions in September 2022 on hunter harvested wild bird meat/carcasses from all of Canada, regardless of province, due to the risk of transmitting highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI). APHIS has been working with stakeholders and other federal agencies to provide options for importing hunter-harvested wild bird meat/carcasses that address the HPAI transmission risk to our domestic poultry. View the press release that outlines restrictions and conditions.
CT Duck Stamp
The $13 Connecticut Duck Stamp is merged with the $4 Harvest Information Program (HIP) permit into a single $17 Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp. ALL migratory bird hunters (including crow hunters), regardless of age, must purchase the Connecticut Migratory Bird Conservation Stamp. Hunters under the age of 16 do not need to purchase a Federal Duck Stamp to hunt waterfowl. A 3-day, out-of-state (non-resident) bird hunting license, which costs $35, allows out-of-state hunters to hunt migratory and resident (non-migratory) game birds for 3 consecutive days. Depending on what species are being hunted, out-of-state
Hunters who have encountered problems purchasing the federal Duck Stamp at local post offices can purchase the Electronic Duck Stamp, or E-Stamp, online for immediate use. You may purchase the E-Stamp from another state as DEEP's online system currently is unable to process federal Duck Stamp purchases. The actual stamp will be mailed to you after purchase, but you will have an E-Stamp to use until you receive the actual stamp. Details on how to purchase an E-Stamp are on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.
Reporting waterfowl bands is crucial for management decisions. Leg band return data help managers track waterfowl movements, timing of these movements, harvest rates, and other important information. Bands and other markers, such as neck collars, can be reported at www.reportband.gov. When you report band recoveries, you will receive immediate feedback on where the bird was initially banded and can print a Certificate of Appreciation.
Poaching is stealing! Shooting before or after hours, overbagging, shooting out of season, and rallying birds are all unethical and illegal hunting behaviors. If you see violations, report them to the DEEP's 24-hour hotline at 1-800-842-4357. All calls are confidential.
Waterfowl hunters are reminded that restrictions are in place in many areas due to heightened security concerns. Of note, per the United States Coast Guard:
- No boat may be anchored within 25 yards of any bridge along any navigable waterway.
- There is a 700-yard security zone around the Millstone Power Plant in Niantic.
- No boats are allowed within 1,500 feet of the downstream side of the Shepaug and Lake Housatonic Dams (Derby/Shelton); 700 feet of the downstream side of the Stevenson Dam (Oxford/Monroe); 300 feet of the downstream side of the Bleachery Dam (New Milford); and 300 feet upstream of all these dams.
As Connecticut becomes more urbanized, a smaller percentage of our population participates in hunting and is familiar with the traditions and values associated with hunting. The image that individual hunters portray to the non-hunting community is often the image that is placed upon the hunting community as a whole. Thus, the way hunters present themselves to the public is very important to the future of the hunting tradition.
Due to the high visibility areas that some waterfowlers use, particularly along the coast, it is imperative that hunters maintain the highest integrity and remain responsible while out in the field. Waterfowl hunting along the Connecticut coast is a long-running, cherished tradition. It has taken place for many years in close proximity to areas of high human use. For the most part, there have been very few conflicts. However, in recent years, some negative encounters have occurred between waterfowl hunters and the non-hunting public. The Connecticut Waterfowl Association (CWA) has devised a list of tips through their “Hunt Smart” program aimed at ways waterfowlers can minimize the concern the non-hunting public may have about hunting. More information about this program can be found on the CWA website.
If you choose to hunt in areas that are in the public eye, you must exercise unquestioned ethical hunting practices, avoid conflicts with the non-hunting public, and use common sense. If you do not, the alternative is clear … hunting opportunities will be greatly reduced. To conduct yourself in an ethical and responsible manner, you should:
- Respect property and landowners. Always obtain permission to hunt on private land - this is a legal requirement in Connecticut.
- Know and obey the laws.
- Hunt safely. Shoot in a safe direction. Treat all guns as loaded. Always dress appropriately and be prepared for changes in the weather.
- Avoid potential conflicts with non-hunters.
- Respect the environment and wildlife.
- Don't "skybust." Calling waterfowl in to appropriate gun range is one of the greatest challenges and rewards of waterfowling.
- Don't shoot ducks on the water.
- If a nearby hunting party is working birds, don't try and call those birds to you.
Remember, hunting is a privilege, not a right. The hunting privilege you enjoy could be curtailed due to the unethical and unsportsmen-like actions of a few hunters.
Content last updated in September 2022.