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DNR officials add third waterfowl hunting zone

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outdoors Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL - Waterfowl hunters in southern Minnesota will have additional late season hunting opportunities under a new three-zone, 60-day season.

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Last year the DNR split the state into two hunting zones with different season dates as part of an effort to provide additional hunting opportunity as birds migrate from north to south. The addition of a third zone furthers that approach.

"A third zone was supported in data collected as part of a hunter survey and a first-ever waterfowl hunter focus group," said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. "This will extend the hunting season in southern Minnesota through the first weekend in December, which will appeal to hunters where waters have not yet frozen and migrating birds are still coming through."

The state's waterfowl season will open one-half hour before sunrise on Sept. 22 statewide. The daily bag limit of six ducks per day and a 60-day season are unchanged from last year. The mallard bag limit remains at four per day, including two hen mallards. The wood duck bag limit will remain at three per day. The daily limit for scaup is four, up from two last year. Possession limits remain at twice the daily bag limits. Youth Waterfowl Day will be Sept. 8, two weeks before the season opener.

Dennis Simon, DNR wildlife chief, said this year's opener is the earliest in 45 years. Duck season length is based on mallard counts from a continental survey, including Minnesota information. This year's estimate was 11 million mallards, which was above the average of 8.1 million mallards and the second highest count since 1992.

Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist, said breeding duck numbers for all species were very good this year. He noted wetland conditions in the major waterfowl breeding areas were drier than last year but still near long-term averages.

"The population index of local breeding mallards in Minnesota was at their long-term average of 225,000 this spring," Cordt said. "Wetland conditions in Minnesota were drier this spring compared to last year, but improved in many areas in May and June."

E In the North Duck Zone (north of Highway 210), duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 22-Tuesday, Nov. 20.

E In the Central Duck Zone, duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 22 to Sunday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 6-Sunday, Nov. 25.

E In the South Duck Zone (south of Highway 212), duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 22 to Sunday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 13-Sunday, Dec. 2.

E Shooting hours will be from one half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday, Oct. 6, and from one half hour before sunrise to sunset the remainder of the season.

E Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory waterfowl may not be used from the opening day of duck season through Saturday, Oct. 6. On water bodies and lands fully contained within state wildlife management area boundaries, a person may not use these devices at any time during the waterfowl season.

E In the North Duck Zone (north of Highway 210), duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 22-Tuesday, Nov. 20.

- In the Central Duck Zone, duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 22 to Sunday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 6-Sunday, Nov. 25.

- In the South Duck Zone (south of Highway 212), duck season will run from Saturday, Sept. 22 to Sunday, Sept. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 13-Sunday, Dec. 2.

- Shooting hours will be from one half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. daily through Saturday, Oct. 6, and from one half hour before sunrise to sunset the remainder of the season.

- Motorized decoys or other motorized devices designed to attract migratory waterfowl may not be used from the opening day of duck season through Saturday, Oct. 6. On water bodies and lands fully contained within state wildlife management area boundaries, a person may not use these devices at any time during the waterfowl season.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Saturday, Sept. 8. Hunters age 15 and under may take regular season bag limits when accompanied by a non-hunting adult (age 18 and older, no license required). Ducks, Canada geese, mergansers, coots and moorhens may be taken from one half-hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. Motorized decoy restrictions are in effect. Five geese may be taken statewide. A free small game license and HIP-certification are required for youth age 15 and under.

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