Table of Contents
- Bag and Possession Limits
- Baiting Rules
- Illegal Hunting Practices
- Exceptions to Illegal Practices
- Possession and Transportation
- Reporting and Preservation
- Marking Package Or Container
- Migratory Bird Preservation Facility
- Regulations For Migratory Bird Preservation Facilities
- Natural Vegetation
- Definitions Related To Agricultural Practices
Federal Laws for Migratory Birds
Aggregate Daily Bag Limit
The maximum number of migratory game birds one person is permitted to take in any one day during the open season across multiple geographic areas or for different species with combined daily bag limits. It is equal to the largest daily bag limit prescribed for any one species or area but cannot exceed it.
Aggregate Possession Limit
The highest number of migratory game birds (of a single species or a combination) a person is allowed to possess when hunting occurs across more than one specified geographic area. It matches the largest possession limit prescribed for any of the species or areas involved but cannot exceed it.
An area where salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, potentially luring migratory game birds where hunting is occurring. Such an area remains baited for ten days after the complete removal of all such materials.
The act of placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of salt, grain, or other feed that could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to areas where hunters are attempting to take them.
Custody of Birds of Another
No person shall receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are tagged as required.
Daily Bag Limit
The maximum number of migratory game birds of single species or combination (aggregate) of species permitted to be taken by one person on any one day during the open season in any one specified geographic area for which a daily bag limit is prescribed.
Gift of Migratory Game Birds
No person may receive, possess, or give to another, any freshly killed migratory game birds as a gift, except at the personal abodes of the donor or recipient, unless such birds have a tag attached, signed by the hunter who took the birds, stating the hunter’s address, the total number and species of birds and the date such birds were taken.
Illegal Hunting Practices
Use of Prohibited Methods: No person shall take migratory game birds using traps, snares, nets, rifles, pistols, swivel guns, shotguns larger than 10-gauge, punt guns, battery guns, machine guns, fishhooks, poisons, drugs, explosives, or stupefying substances.
Shotguns Over Capacity: Using a shotgun capable of holding more than three shells unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler that cannot be removed without disassembling the gun, limiting its total capacity to three shells.
Sink-Box Use: From or by means, aid, or use of a sink-box or any other type of low floating device providing concealment beneath the water's surface.
Motor Vehicles & Conveyances: From or by means, aid, or use of any motor vehicle, motor-driven land conveyance, aircraft, motorboat, or other craft with a motor attached, or any sailboat unless the motor is completely shut off and/or the sails furled and its progress has ceased.
Live Bird Decoys: By the use or aid of live birds as decoys; it's a violation to take migratory waterfowl where tame or captive live ducks or geese are present unless these birds are confined in a way that substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and conceals them from sight of wild migratory waterfowl for 10 consecutive days before the hunting.
Recorded or Amplified Calls: By the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds or imitations of bird calls or sounds.
Motor-Driven Conveyances for Rallying: By means or aid of any motor-driven land, water, or air conveyance, or any sailboat used for concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up migratory birds.
Possession of Unapproved Ammunition: While possessing loose shot for muzzle loading or shot shells containing other than approved non-toxic shot.
Baiting and Baited Areas: By the aid of baiting or on or over any baited area where a person knows or should reasonably know that the area is or has been baited. This excludes the taking of migratory game birds on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas under certain conditions like standing crops or flooded standing crops, natural vegetation, flooded harvested croplands, or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as a result of normal agricultural practices.
Exceptions to Illegal Hunting Practices
Hunting on Unbaited Areas: Hunting of any migratory game bird, including waterfowl, coots, and Sandhill cranes, is permitted on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited. These include standing or flooded crops, natural vegetation, harvested croplands, or lands where seeds or grains are scattered solely due to normal agricultural practices.
Hunting from Natural Blinds: Hunting from blinds or other places of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation or vegetation from crops is allowed, provided it does not involve the exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering of grain or other feed.
Inadvertent Scattering of Grain: Hunting is allowed on standing or flooded standing crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of hunter movement, decoy placement, or retrieving downed birds.
Hunting on Manipulated Agricultural Lands: Hunting of any migratory game bird, except waterfowl, coots, and Sandhill cranes, is permitted on or over lands where grain or other feed has been distributed or scattered solely as the result of manipulation of an agricultural crop or other feed on the land where grown, or solely due to normal agricultural operations.
The possession limit is the maximum number of migratory game birds of a single species or a combination of species that one person is legally allowed to possess at any given time. This limit is specified for each geographic area where hunting is lawful and is generally a multiple of the daily bag limit.
Possession of Live Birds
All migratory game birds wounded and reduced to possession by the hunter must be immediately killed and included in the daily bag limit. It is illegal at any time and by any means to possess or transport live migratory game birds that have been taken under hunting authority.
To take means to pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture, or collect migratory game birds, and it also includes any attempt to engage in these activities.
When a hunter leaves migratory game birds at any place other than their abode, or in the custody of another person for processing, shipping, transportation, storage, or taxidermy services, those birds must have a tag attached. This tag must be signed by the hunter and state their address, the total number and species of birds, and the date the birds were killed. Migratory game birds transported in any vehicle as the personal baggage of the possessor are not considered to be in storage or temporary storage and thus may not require tagging under certain conditions.
The act of shipping, conveying, carrying, or transporting by any means. This includes the delivery or receipt for the shipment, conveyance, carriage, or transportation of items, in this context specifically referring to migratory game birds.
Transportation of Birds of Another
It is illegal for any person to transport migratory game birds belonging to another person unless those birds are properly tagged by the regulations. The tags must include pertinent information such as the hunter's name, address, the total number and species of birds, and the date the birds were killed. This ensures traceability and compliance with migratory bird conservation laws during transportation.
Wanton Waste of Migratory Game Birds
Individuals must make a reasonable effort to retrieve any migratory game bird they have killed or crippled. The bird should be retained in the actual custody of the hunter at the place where it was taken or between that place and:
- The person’s automobile or principal means of land transportation.
- The person’s personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging.
- A migratory bird preservation facility.
- A post office.
- A common carrier facility.
Termination of Possession
A hunter's possession of migratory birds is considered to have ceased once the birds have been:
- Delivered to another person as a gift.
- Delivered to a post office, common carrier, or migratory bird preservation facility and consigned for transport by the U.S. Postal Service or a common carrier to someone other than the hunter.
Species Identification Requirement
When transporting migratory game birds within the United States, the head or at least one fully feathered wing must remain attached to each bird. This requirement is valid from the point of taking the birds until they arrive at the personal abode of the possessor or a designated migratory bird preservation facility.
Additional Resources and Information
- Waterfowl Information: GFP provides weekly updates on waterfowl migration and hunting information, available at their official website. These reports are useful for predicting duck and goose activity.
- Banded Waterfowl and Mourning Doves Reporting: Hunters who bag banded waterfowl or mourning doves are encouraged to report the band number at the official reporting website of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This helps in tracking and studying the movements and populations of these birds.
Manipulation refers to the alteration of natural vegetation or crops through various activities. These activities can include mowing, shredding, disking, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning, or the application of herbicides. However, manipulation does not encompass the distributing or scattering of grain, seed, or other feed after it has been removed from or stored on the field where it was grown. This distinction is crucial for understanding permissible actions under federal laws for migratory game birds.
Marking Package or Container
When transporting migratory game birds via the U.S. Postal Service or a common carrier, the package or container must be marked with specific information. This includes the name and address of both the shipper and the consignee, as well as an accurate statement detailing the numbers of each species of bird contained within. This marking must be clear and conspicuous on the outside of the package or container. This requirement ensures proper tracking and adherence to regulations regarding the transport of migratory game birds.
Migratory Bird Preservation Facility
A Migratory Bird Preservation Facility refers to any establishment where migratory game birds are received, possessed, or held in custody for various processing services by individuals other than their original hunter or captor. This includes:
Individuals at Their Residence or Business: Any person operating for hire or other consideration at their home or place of business, providing services related to migratory game birds.
Taxidermists, Cold-Storage Facilities, or Locker Plants: These establishments offer services for hire or other considerations, including picking, cleaning, freezing, processing, or storing migratory game birds.
Hunting Clubs: In their normal operations, these clubs might receive, possess, or have in custody migratory game birds belonging to another person for picking, cleaning, freezing, processing, storage, or shipment.
Regulations for Migratory Bird Preservation Facilities
Migratory Bird Preservation Facilities must adhere to strict regulations to ensure proper handling and record-keeping of migratory game birds. They shall not:
Receive or Have in Custody Any Migratory Game Bird Without Maintaining Accurate Records:
- Records must identify each bird by the name of the person from whom it was obtained and include:
- The number of each species.
- The location where each bird was taken.
- The date the birds were received.
- The name and address of the person from whom the birds were received.
- The date the birds were disposed of.
- The name and address of the person to whom the birds were delivered.
- Records must identify each bird by the name of the person from whom it was obtained and include:
Destroy Required Records:
- Facilities must not destroy any records required to be maintained under this section for one year following the last entry on the record.
Exemption on Record Keeping for Certain Hunting Clubs:
- Record keeping as outlined is not necessary at hunting clubs that do not fully process migratory birds by removal of both the head and wings.
Natural vegetation encompasses any non-agricultural, native, or naturalized plant species that grow spontaneously in a specific area, either from deliberate planting or naturally from existing seeds or other propagules. This definition excludes initially planted millet; however, if millet grows independently in the years following its initial planting without further human intervention, it then qualifies as natural vegetation. This distinction is crucial in various legal and environmental contexts, particularly in regulations concerning habitats and feeding areas for wildlife, including migratory birds.
Definitions Related to Agricultural Practices
Normal Agricultural Planting, Harvesting, or Post-Harvest Manipulation
This refers to the activities of planting or harvesting undertaken to produce and gather a crop or the manipulation of the crop after harvest. Such activities are conducted by the official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It involves techniques and timings that are typical or accepted in the region for maximizing crop yield and health.
Normal Agricultural Operation
A broader term that encompasses all standard agricultural practices including planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or any other agricultural activity. These operations are carried out in line with the official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This ensures that the activities are consistent with sustainable and accepted agricultural practices.
Normal Soil Stabilization Practice
This involves plantings specifically for agricultural soil erosion control or post-mining land reclamation, conducted according to the guidelines provided by State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The purpose is to prevent soil erosion in agricultural settings or to rehabilitate land following mining activities, using methods that are recognized and recommended for maintaining soil health and productivity.
FAQs on Federal Laws for Migratory Birds
What is the aggregate daily bag limit for migratory birds?
- The aggregate daily bag limit is the maximum number of migratory game birds one person can take in any one day across multiple areas or species. It's equal to the largest daily bag limit prescribed for any one species or area but cannot exceed it.
How long must a migratory bird preservation facility keep records?
- Facilities must not destroy any records for one year following the last entry on the record.
What constitutes baiting under migratory bird hunting regulations?
- Baiting involves placing, exposing, depositing, distributing, or scattering salt, grain, or other feed that could lure migratory game birds to areas where hunters are attempting to take them.
Are there any exceptions to the baiting rule?
- Yes, hunting is allowed on or over unbaited areas including standing or flooded crops, natural vegetation, harvested croplands, or where seeds or grains are scattered solely due to normal agricultural practices.
What should be attached to migratory game birds when transported?
- When transporting within the U.S., the head or one fully feathered wing must remain attached to each bird until they arrive at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.
What is considered an illegal hunting practice for migratory birds?
- Illegal practices include using traps, snares, nets, large caliber firearms, poisons, and other prohibited methods, as well as hunting with shotguns over a three-shell capacity, among others.
What is the definition of natural vegetation under migratory bird laws?
- Natural vegetation includes non-agricultural, native, or naturalized plant species that grow spontaneously from deliberate planting or naturally from existing seeds or other propagules, excluding initially planted millet unless it regrows in subsequent years.
What is the tagging requirement for migratory game birds?
- Birds left at any place other than the hunter's abode or in the custody of another person must have a tag with the hunter's address, the total number and species of birds, and the date they were killed.
What actions are considered as 'take' under these laws?
- 'Take' includes pursuing, hunting, shooting, wounding, killing, trapping, capturing, or collecting migratory game birds, as well as attempts to engage in these activities.
What constitutes a wanton waste of migratory game birds?
- Wanton waste refers to killing or crippling any migratory game bird without making a reasonable effort to retrieve and retain it in actual custody.
What are normal agricultural operations according to these laws?
- Normal agricultural operations include typical planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation, or other agricultural practices conducted according to the official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
What is a normal soil stabilization practice?
- It involves plantings specifically for agricultural soil erosion control or post-mining land reclamation, conducted by official recommendations for agricultural soil erosion control.
What is the possession limit for migratory birds?
- The possession limit is the maximum number of birds of a single species or a combination that a person can legally possess at any time, typically a multiple of the daily bag limit.
How can I report a banded waterfowl or mourning dove?
- Hunters should report banded birds at the official reporting website of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: reportband.gov.
Are there special considerations for the transportation of birds belonging to another person?
- Yes, no person shall transport migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged as required by regulations.