The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the results of a two-year scientific study to determine optimal duck hunting seasons for the coming years. DEC selected the duck season dates by implementing a process that maximizes duck hunter inclusion, is rooted in scientific data, and balances factors in duck abundance and specific zones of the state. Bag limits will be announced in April.
These waterfowl hunting seasons are the results of a two-year collaboration between DEC’s Bureau of Wildlife and Cornell University. DEC asked a group of waterfowl hunters, known as the Waterfowl Task Force, to identify options for optimal duck season dates in each waterfowl zone. DEC and Cornell University’s Center for Conservation Social Sciences then surveyed approximately one-third of the duck hunters in New York State (roughly 6,000 hunters). Finally, biologists incorporated the most recent zone-specific duck abundance and migration data.
In all waterfowl zones, hunters felt the most important consideration was the opportunity to pursue mallards and black ducks, followed closely by the opportunity to pursue any duck or a diversity of species. Duck hunters like to see a variety of duck species when they hunt. DEC paired this information with new, zone-specific data on duck abundance and migration. Through this process, DEC identified season dates that best fit the values of duck hunters in each zone.
Barring changes to season length, duck seasons in New York will be open for the following dates in 2019-2020:
- Northeastern Zone – Beginning on the first Saturday in October, running for 23 days, ending on a Sunday, and a second split beginning the first Saturday following the closure of the 1st split, running 37 days, and ending on a Sunday (e.g., Oct. 5, 2019 – Oct. 27, 2019 and Nov. 2, 2019 – Dec. 8, 2019). Northeastern Zone Structured Decision-Making Analysis and Results
- Western Zone – Beginning the third Saturday in October, running 23 days, ending on a Sunday; a second split beginning on the last Saturday in November, running 37 days, and ending on a Sunday (e.g., Oct. 19, 2019 – Nov. 10, 2019 and Nov. 30, 2019 – Jan. 5, 2020). Western Zone Structured Decision-Making Analysis and Results
- Southeastern Zone – Beginning the third Saturday in October, running for 44 days, ending on a Sunday, and a second split beginning the first Saturday following the closure of the 1st split, running 16 days, and ending on a Sunday (e.g., Oct. 19, 2019 – Dec. 1, 2019 and Dec. 7, 2019 – Dec. 22, 2019). Southeastern Zone Structured Decision-Making Analysis and Results
- Long Island Zone – Beginning on the Saturday prior to Thanksgiving, running for 9 days, ending on a Sunday, and a second split running for 51 days, opening on a Saturday, and ending on the last Sunday in January (e.g., Nov. 23, 2019 – Dec. 1, 2019 and Dec. 7, 2019 – Jan. 26, 2020). Long Island Zone Structured Decision-Making Analysis and Results
DEC will announce tentative bag limits for all migratory game birds in early April. Also, season dates for the next four years (through 2024) will be based on this study and structure.
A description of waterfowl hunting zones and boundaries can be found on DEC’s website.
More detailed information on the duck hunter survey and the season selection process can be found on the DEC website.