Summer is coming to an end and once again it is time to get ready for waterfowl hunting in Colorado. CPW's Avian Research Section Leader, Jim Gammonley , offers a brief forecast to help hunters determine if it will be a good season.
"There are a few key ingredients to a successful season," says Gammonley. "Waterfowl abundance, habitat conditions, and weather. Each of these is important at a continental, regional and local scale."
North American duck populations tend to vary over time in response to changing wet and dry habitat conditions on the main continental breeding areas in Canada and the northcentral U.S.
Reproductive success of arctic-nesting geese also fluctuates depending on timing of ice and snow melt, and summer temperatures. When populations are high, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service permits longer seasons and higher bag limits for waterfowl, whereas when populations are low hunting regulations are more conservative.
Colorado has enjoyed long hunting seasons and high bag limits for the past twenty years, due to generally high numbers of ducks and geese in North America. The trend continues in 2015 with high numbers of most duck species, including record numbers of mallards and green-winged teal, that were counted on breeding grounds this past May. Most goose populations also remain well above USFWS objectives. "This means long seasons and high bag limits will once again be in place for Colorado and throughout the U.S., providing more opportunity to hunt waterfowl," adds Gammonley.
What You Need to Buy a License and Hunt
- Secure and verifiable ID (see page 2 of waterfowl brocure); a social security number is required for new hunters age 12 and older
- For residents, proof of residency (see page 2)
- Proof of hunter education (see page 1)
- All hunters must buy a small-game license to hunt waterfowl.
- Stamps: A habitat stamp is required for anyone aged 18 through 64. All hunters age 16 and older must also have a Colorado Waterfowl Stamp and Federal Migratory Bird Stamp prior to hunting (see page 2). Federal stamps are available at post offices and CPW offices. The State stamps are available at all CPW offices, from license agents, online, and by phone at 1-800-244-5613. A federal stamp is not required to take light geese during the conservation order season.
Obtaining HIP Numbers
If you intend to hunt small game (including migratory birds) in Colorado during the 2015/2016 season, you need a new Harvest Information Program number. Go to the HIP website or call 1-866-COLOHIP (265-6447) to begin the online registration process to obtain a new HIP number.
DIY Duck Blind
In this Colorado Outdoors “Quick Tip” video, you will learn how to build a simple but effective duck blind that works well for most applications. Best of all, this portable, light-weight blind costs less than $40.
The Colorado Rig
Central & Pacific Flyways
There are four administrative flyways in North America. Colorado is a member of both the Central and Pacific Flyways. Each Flyway Council is comprised of a representative of agencies responsible for migratory bird management in each member state, province or territory. Since the Flyway Council is the principal mechanism for dialog between the states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) on migratory bird issues (including annual migratory game bird hunting regulations), each Council selects two of its members to carry and discuss its recommendations in a consultation process with the FWS. This process includes representatives from all flyways and frequently leads to the Service making proposals for the general public to comment on.
The http://www.flyways.us/ website is packed with news, updates, harvest management information, and scientific data from the FWS and Canadian Wildlife Service. It provides links to Flyway websites and has other features like those listed below.
initial assessments of waterfowl breeding habitat conditions in new video segments
aerial photos chronicling surveys
interactive maps to find bird banding and recovery sites
email tool for submitting questions about duck, goose, and swan hunting management to field experts
Report Birds with Federal Bands
If a person recovers a banded bird, it is asked that the individual report the information online at http://www.reportband.gov/. This web-based system, created by the U.S. Geological Survey, helps provide important wildlife research data.
Federal Regulations for Migratory Bird Hunters
Game bird hunters should be sure to read United States Fish and Wildlife Service's federal regulations for hunting migratory birds, which contains a need-to-know terms, a list of illegal hunting methods and links to additional information on refuge specific regulations. Note: When state law differs from Federal law, the hunter must comply with the most restrictive law.
Waterfowl and other migratory birds are a national resource protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Federal and State regulations help ensure that these birds continue to thrive while providing hunting opportunities.
Federal baiting regulations define key terms for hunters and land managers, and clarify conditions under which you may legally hunt waterfowl. As a waterfowl hunter or land manager, it is your responsibility to know and obey all Federal and State laws that govern the sport. State regulations can be more restrictive than Federal regulations. Waterfowl baiting regulations apply to ducks, geese, swans, coots, and cranes.
Federal regulations are more restrictive for waterfowl hunting than for hunting doves and other migratory game birds. You should carefully review the Federal regulations. See the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Waterfowl Hunting and Baiting web page for more information.