Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Michigan: 2016-17 waterfowl season dates announced; 2015-16 annual reports for Wetland Wonders available

It’s almost time to polish up the shotgun, warm up the retriever with some practice throws and don camouflage as the season nears for hunting ducks and geese in Michigan. Area wildlife managers have been working hard all summer to make sure migrating waterfowl have great habitat conditions in Michigan’s state game and wildlife areas this fall. 
Waterfowl hunting regulations and bag limits can be found in the 2016-2017 Michigan Waterfowl Hunting Digest. Digests are available at DNR Customer Service Centers, wildlife field offices, license agents and online atmi.gov/dnrdigests.
Big changes to regulations this year include a liberalized Canada goose hunting season with increased bag limits. The daily bag limit is now five geese per day during the entire September season and three geese per day October through February. 
Canada goose season runs Sept. 1-30 and Oct. 1-Dec. 16 in the North Zone. Middle Zone dates are Sept. 1-30 andOct. 1-Dec. 14 with a Dec. 17-18 split weekend. In the South Zone, dates run Sept. 1-25Oct. 8-Dec. 4Dec. 31-Jan. 1 and Jan. 21-Feb.11. Saginaw and Tuscola County goose management units (GMU) have the same dates as the South Zone. Designated goose management units in Allegan and Muskegon counties have alternate dates. Information on goose seasons in GMUs can be found in the Waterfowl Hunting Digest.
Michigan’s experimental early teal season will continue this year and will be held statewide Sept. 1-7. This is the third and final year of the experimental season.
It is important to be aware that the early teal season is experimental for three years. The DNR is required to measure the attempts and harvest of non-target species to make sure hunters are harvesting only teal and not other species of ducks, like wood ducks and mallards. If hunters attempt to harvest or do harvest species other than teal, this could be the last year for the early teal season.
Duck seasons have been split into two segments in all three of state duck-hunting zones this year. Duck hunting in the North Zone runs Sept. 24-Nov. 20 and Nov. 26-27. In the Middle Zone, duck season is Oct. 1–Nov. 27 and Dec. 17-18, and in the South Zone, duck season is Oct. 8-Dec. 4 and Dec. 31-Jan 1.
Annual reports for the seven Michigan Wetland Wonders also are available on the DNR website. These annual reports detail the 2015-2016 hunting season results, habitat management activities and weekly waterfowl counts at each Wetland Wonder along with other important information. To find the annual reports, visit www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders. Click on The 7 Wonders tab and then the Updates and Counts tab.    
Michigan's Wetland Wonders include the seven premier managed waterfowl hunt areas in the state: Fennville Farm Unit at the Allegan State Game Area (Allegan County), Fish Point State Wildlife Area (Tuscola County), St. Clair Flats State Wildlife Area on Harsens Island (St. Clair County), Muskegon County Wastewater Facility (Muskegon County), Nayanquing Point State Wildlife Area (Bay County), Pointe Mouillee State Game Area (Monroe and Wayne counties) and Shiawassee River State Game Area (Saginaw County).
These Wetland Wonders, scattered across the southern Lower Peninsula, were created in the 1960s to provide exceptional waterfowl hunting opportunities, and are still managed today to provide waterfowl habitat for nesting and migration and for the benefit of other wetland-dependent wildlife. Since the beginning, these areas have been funded by hunting license fees, but they are open for anyone to visit, use and enjoy most of the year.
The Wetland Wonders campaign is part of the Michigan Waterfowl Legacy, a 10-year, cooperative partnership to restore, conserve and celebrate Michigan's waterfowl, wetland and waterfowl hunting community. The initiative is a "call to action" to honor yesterday, engage today and build for tomorrow.