Migratory Game Bird Regulations Overview

Families of Migratory Game Birds

Migratory game birds are categorized under the following families:

  • Anatidae: Encompasses wild ducks, geese, and brant.
  • Rallidae: Includes rails, coots, moorhens, and gallinules.
  • Scolopacidae: Covers woodcock and snipe.

Hunting Methods and Equipment

  • Permissible Aids: Hunting with dogs, artificial decoys, bird calls, bow and arrow, crossbow, falconry, or shotguns up to No.10 gauge is legal.
  • Watercraft Use: Legal from non-motorized or stationary motorized craft under specific conditions for retrieval or hunting of injured birds.

Transportation Regulations

  • Conditions for Transport: Legally taken birds must be transportable across states or internationally post-season, with specific dressing and packaging requirements for identification and record-keeping purposes.

Possession Guidelines

  • Tagging Requirements: Birds left for processing or storage must be tagged with hunter's details and date of kill. Commercial facilities must keep detailed records of bird transactions.

Prohibitions and Penalties

  • Unlawful Activities: Includes the use of prohibited hunting methods, equipment, or the wasteful disregard of hunted birds without reasonable effort for retrieval.

Seasonal and Bag Limit Regulations

  • Compliance with Limits: Hunters must adhere to designated open seasons, daily bag, and possession limits, with specific rules for the opening day and closed seasons.

Federal Restrictions

  • Shot Restrictions and Hunting Gear: Use of non-toxic shot and restrictions on hunting equipment to ensure humane and environmentally responsible hunting practices.

Baiting and Hunting Location Regulations

  • Baiting Prohibitions: Strict rules against hunting over baited areas, with exceptions for certain agricultural practices and natural vegetation conditions.

Additional Federal Regulations Summary

  • General Restrictions: Highlights federal guidelines on prohibited hunting methods, the requirement for personal custody of birds, and conditions under which hunting from vehicles or with live decoys is not allowed.

Maine Waterfowl Hunting Zones

Definition for North and South Zone Line

Maine-New Brunswick border in Baileyville, Maine west along Stony Brook to Route 9 in Baileyville. West along Route 9 to Route 15 in Bangor. West along Route 15 to I-95 in Bangor. Southwest along I-95 to Route 202 (Exit 109A) in Augusta. Southwest along Route 202 to Route 11 in Auburn. Southwest along Route 11 to Route 110 in Newfield. West along Route 110 to Maine-New Hampshire border.

Definition for South/Coastal Zone Line

Maine-New Brunswick border in Calais at the Route 1 bridge. South along Route 1 to the Maine-New Hampshire border in Kittery.

Maine Migratory Bird Hunting Laws and Regulations
  • WMDs 1-6:
    • Aug 1 - Sep 23, 2023; Feb 5 - Apr 15, 2024; Aug 1 - Sep 21, 2024
    • WMDs 7-29:
    • Aug 1 - Sep 23, 2023; Jan 22 - Mar 30, 2024; Aug 1 - Sep 21, 2024
  • Limits: No daily or possession limits. (* Hunting on Sundays is prohibited.)

Hunting Seasons

Common Snipe Hunting Season

  • Dates: Sep 1, 2023 - Jan 3, 2024
  • Daily Bag: 8
  • Possession: 24

Woodcock Hunting Season

  • Dates: Sep 30, 2023 - Nov 21, 2023
  • Daily Bag: 3
  • Possession: 9

Rails (Sora and Virginia) Hunting Season

  • Dates: Sep 1, 2023 - Nov 21, 2023
  • Daily Bag: 25 (single or in aggregate)
  • Possession: No specific limit mentioned.

Canada Goose Hunting Seasons

  • Early Season:
    • North Zone: Sep 1 - Sep 25, 2023; Daily Bag: 8; Possession: 24
    • South Zone: Sep 1 - Sep 25, 2023; Daily Bag: 10; Possession: 30
    • Coastal Zone: Sep 1 - Sep 25, 2023; Daily Bag: 10; Possession: 30
  • Regular Season:
    • North Zone: Oct 2 - Dec 9, 2023; Daily Bag: 2; Possession: 6
    • South Zone: Oct 2 - Oct 14, 2023 and Nov 1 - Dec 25, 2023
    • Coastal Zone: Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2023 and Oct 27, 2023 - Jan 9, 2024; Daily Bag: 3; Possession: 9

Snow Geese (Including Blue Geese) Hunting Season

  • Dates: Oct 2, 2023 - Jan 31, 2024
  • Daily Bag: 25
  • Possession: No specific limit mentioned.

Ducks Hunting Seasons (Including various species)

  • North Zone: Sep 25, 2023 - Dec 2, 2023
  • South Zone: Sep 30, 2023 - Oct 14, 2023 and Nov 1 - Dec 25, 2023
  • Coastal Zone: Sep 30, 2023 - Oct 7, 2023 and Nov 9, 2023 - Jan 9, 2024
  • Daily Bag: 6 (species-specific limits mentioned below)
  • Possession: 18

Brant Hunting Season

  • North Zone: Sep 25, 2023 - Oct 28, 2023
  • South Zone: Oct 2 - Oct 14, 2023 and Oct 31 - Nov 20, 2023
  • Coastal Zone: Oct 2 - Oct 7, 2023 and Dec 13, 2023 - Jan 9, 2024
  • Daily Bag: 1
  • Possession: 3

Special Falconry Season (In addition to the regular migratory bird season)

  • North Zone: Dec 18, 2023 - Feb 7, 2024
  • South Zone: Jan 10, 2024 - Mar 1, 2024
  • Coastal Zone: Jan 10, 2024 - Mar 1, 2024
  • Daily Bag: 3
  • Possession: 9

Special Youth Waterfowl Hunts Days

  • North Zone: Sep 16 & Dec 9, 2023
  • South Zone: Sep 23 & Oct 21, 2023
  • Coastal Zone: Sep 23 & Oct 28, 2023

Exceptions to Migratory Game Bird Regulations

Closed Seasons and Species Limits

  • Closed Seasons: Certain species, including Harlequin Ducks, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Moorhens, and Gallinules, are not permitted to be hunted, adhering to conservation efforts and species protection.
  • Species-Specific Limits: Daily and possession limits are meticulously set for species such as American Coots, Northern Pintails, Mottled Ducks, Fulvous Whistling Ducks, Scaup, Black Ducks, Redhead, Hen Mallards, Canvasbacks, Mallards, Mergansers, Sea Ducks, Teal, and Wood Ducks to manage populations sustainably.

Distinctions in Regulations

  • Migratory Game Birds vs. Migratory Waterfowl: It's crucial for hunters to understand the regulatory differences between these groups, especially regarding ammunition and shotgun capacities.

Specific Regulations for Certain Birds

  • Woodcock & Snipe: Classified as migratory game birds, allowing the use of lead shot. The regulation restricts the use of shotguns to those incapable of holding more than three shells. A migratory waterfowl stamp is not required for hunting these species.
  • Rails: Also categorized under migratory game birds, with prohibitions on the use of shotguns capable of holding more than three shells and the non-requirement of a migratory waterfowl stamp.

Hunting Hours

Hunting hours for migratory game birds are from 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset daily.

Pursuit of Crippled Waterfowl Under Power

The shooting of crippled waterfowl from a motorboat under power is permitted on coastal waters and all waters of rivers and streams lying seaward from the first upstream bridge.

Definition of North and South Zone Line

Defines the geographical boundary for hunting zones in Maine, running from the Maine-New Brunswick border in Baileyville, along specified routes to the Maine-New Hampshire border.

Definition of Coastal Zone Line

Defines the Coastal Zone Line running south of a line from the Maine-New Brunswick border in Calais along Route 1 to the Maine-New Hampshire border in Kittery.

Nontoxic Shot - Statewide

The requirement for the use or possession of nontoxic shot while hunting certain migratory game birds, with details on approved shot types.

Haley Pond - Closed to Hunting

Specifies the prohibition of waterfowl hunting on Haley Pond in Franklin County.

Wildfowl Decoys

Prohibits shooting at or near wildfowl decoys of another person with specified boundaries.

Laws Specific to Merrymeeting Bay

Outlines specific hunting laws for Merrymeeting Bay, including restrictions on artificial cover and duck decoys, speed limits for power boats, and special sanctuary regulations.

Laws Specific to Merrymeeting Bay Game Sanctuary

Details on the hunting prohibition within the Merrymeeting Bay Game Sanctuary, including sanctuary coordinates and motorboat use restrictions.

Harvest Information Program

Explains the requirement for hunters of certain migratory game birds to indicate their intention to hunt these species at the time of license purchase for the Harvest Information Program (H.I.P).

Stamp Requirements

Details on the State Migratory Waterfowl Permit and Federal Stamp requirements for hunters 16 years of age or older.

Duck Stamp Art Contest

An invitation to learn more about the annual duck stamp art contest.

Protect Our Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species

Guidelines for cleaning, draining, and drying gear and equipment to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Field Possession Limit

Specifies that no person shall possess more than one daily bag limit of migratory game birds while in the field.


Regulations on the importation of migratory birds killed in another country.

Dual Violation

Notes that violation of State migratory bird regulations also constitutes a violation of Federal regulations.

Caution for National Wildlife Refuges

Advises that more restrictive regulations may apply to National Wildlife Refuges open to public hunting.

Help Stop Wildlife Violations

Encourages reporting wildlife violations through Operation Game Thief.

Barrow's Goldeneye

Provides information on distinguishing between Common and Barrow's Goldeneye to protect the threatened species and outlines reporting requirements for unintentional take.

Band Recovery Reports

Encourages reporting found or recovered bands to aid in wildlife management and reduce costs associated with banding studies.

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