Migratory Bird Regulations

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Major Changes for the 2018–19 Season

  • The pintail daily bag limit was increased to 2 birds.
  • The black duck daily bag limit will remain at 2 birds, similar to last year.
  • The season for woodcock will be longer than previous years since states like New Jersey with statutory Sunday hunting closures were given compensatory days by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Waterfowl Stamps

Both the New Jersey Waterfowl Stamp Certification and Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp) are required for all waterfowl hunters 16 years and older and must be signed in ink. New Jersey Stamp Certifications are available from license agents and from the Licenses and Permits button on Fish and Wildlife’s website. Federal stamps are available from some U.S. post offices and online at www.fws.gov/birds/get-involved/duck-stamp/buy-duck-stamp.php.

Attention Waterfowl Hunters

Special Regulations Permitted During September Canada Goose Season,
Sept. 1–29, 2018 Only

Special regulations designed to help curb the growth of resident population Canada geese.

  1. Electronic calls are permitted.
  2. Shotguns capable of holding no more than seven shells (including magazine and chamber) are permitted.
  3. Hunting hours: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.

Remember: these special regulations apply only to the September Canada goose season. Hunters who choose to use an unplugged gun during the September Canada goose season must remember to reinstall the magazine plug before pursuing other game species.

During all other waterfowl seasons, including duck, brant, regular and winter Canada goose, and snow goose, standard regulations apply. Standard regulations include: electronic calls prohibited, shotguns may not be capable of holding more than three shot shells and hunting hours end at sunset.

Harvest Information Program (HIP)

All hunters, including Apprentice License holders, must obtain an HIP certification before hunting ducks, geese, brant, coot, woodcock, rails, snipe or gallinules. Hunters may purchase an HIP certification in three ways:

  1. From a License Agent
  2. Online at NJ.WildlifeLicense.com
  3. By calling the toll-free NJ Telephone Sales Line at (888) 277-2015

All three methods allow hunters to go hunting immediately after registering. Online and license agent HIP certifications cost $2 while telephone HIP certifications will include a shipping/handling fee and cost $5.13. Internet HIP certifications can be printed on a home computer. Telephone HIP certifications will be received in about one week; however, hunters can begin hunting immediately by recording their HIP certification number.

HIP certification should be carried in the hunter’s license holder and are valid from Sept. 1 to April 15 the following year. Information collected for HIP is confidential and used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for conducting migratory bird harvest surveys.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Youth hunters must possess a valid Youth Firearms License—OR be less than 16 years of age and qualified to hunt without a license under the farmer license exemption (see License, Permits & Stamps)—to hunt the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days as detailed on Take a Kid Hunting.

All youth hunters must be under the direct supervision of a licensed, non-hunting adult 21 years of age or older.

What Do I Need To Hunt Migratory Birds In New Jersey?

Species Hunted

Hunting License

HIP Certification

NJ Stamp Certification

Federal Stamp


Woodcock, rail, moorhen, snipe

Duck, brant, goose

Hunters: Report Banded Birds

Hunters who recover banded migratory birds are asked to report the band number to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bird Banding Laboratory (BBL), Washington, D.C. Banding data plays a critical role in migratory bird harvest management. There are two ways to report bands:

  1. Online: reportband.gov
  2. Write: to the address inscribed on the band.

Online reporting provides instant access to the original banding information including the species, sex, location, date and age of the bird at banding. Band reporters will be able to print a certificate of appreciation on their home computer which will include information about the bird which had been banded.

When contacting the BBL, be prepared to provide: band number, date the bird was recovered, exact location of the bird’s recovery as well as nearest town, and method of recovery, e.g., shot or found dead. Hunters may keep the bands.

New Jersey State Regulations

State laws and regulations may be more stringent but not more lenient than those prescribed in federal regulations (50 CFR Part 20).


Hunting Hours

See Perpetual Sunrise & Sunset for sunrise/sunset table.

  • Duck, goose, brant, coot, rail, moorhen, snipe—1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset. For example, if sunrise is 6:30 a.m. and sunset is 5:00 p.m., hunting hours for these species are 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • Woodcock—sunrise to sunset.
  • Crow—sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
  • September Canada Goose and the Spring Light Goose Conservation Order—1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset.
  1. Migratory bird hunting is not permitted on Sunday in New Jersey.
  2. No person may take rails or snipe while possessing shot other than non-toxic shot.
  3. The starting time to hunt waterfowl on opening day of pheasant season (Nov. 10, 2018) is 8 a.m. on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant and quail except the tidal waters or marshes of those WMAs. See Small Game Hunting Regulations for pheasant and quail stocked WMAs. The starting time to hunt waterfowl on opening day of the pheasant season conforms to the regular start time (e.g. 1⁄2 hr. before sunrise) on private land, tidal marshes, WMAs not stocked with pheasant and quail, and the tidal marsh portions of pheasant and quail stocked WMAs.
  4. There shall be no open season for hunting any game birds or animals including migratory waterfowl:
    • In or on the shores of the Shark River in Monmouth County.
    • In that portion of the Manasquan River from the ocean inlet upstream to Route 70 bridge.
    • On Herring Island and that portion of Barnegat Bay lying between northern and southern tips of Herring Island easterly to adjacent shoreline of Mantoloking Boro, Ocean County.
    • On Parker Creek and Oceanport Creek, Monmouth County, or the shores thereof, southwest or upstream of the Conrail R.R. bridge.
    • On the non-tidal portions of Cox Hall Creek WMA in Cape May County.
    • In the waters or shoreline of Barnegat Inlet westward from the COLREGS Demarcation Line; to the north end of Broadway in Barnegat Light; then northwest to Red Buoy 14 in the channel (39.763783 N; 074.109283 W); then northeast to the westernmost section of rock jetty at Island Beach State Park.

All migratory bird closure areas are described in detail at NJFishandWildlife.com/migbirdzones.htm

  1. It is unlawful for any person to leave the edible portions (defined as the breast meat) of migratory birds (excepting crows) to waste. Edible portions (see illustration, Edible Portions Guide) do not include meat that has been damaged by the method of taking; bones, sinew and meat reasonably lost as a result of butchering, boning, or close trimming of bones; or viscera.
  2. Waterfowl hunting on Delaware River is governed by state boundaries and restricted to respective state seasons.
  3. Permanent blinds may not be constructed on some state wildlife management areas.
  4. Arrows with flu-flu type fletching are required for taking flying game birds. Arrows with edged heads are prohibited for taking flying game birds.

    Waterfowl Blinds

    No permanent waterfowl blinds, including pit blinds, shall be constructed, hunted from or used in any manner on these WMAs:

    1. Assunpink
    2. Black River
    3. Colliers Mills
    4. Hainesville
    5. Tuckahoe
    6. Manahawkin
    7. Stafford Forge
    8. Whittingham
    9. Beaver Swamp
    10. Sedge Island
    11. Salem River
    12. Prospertown
    13. Paulinskill

    Any blind used on these WMAs must be portable and completely removed by day’s end. Blinds remaining on WMAs are subject to confiscation and disposal by Fish and Wildlife.

2019 Spring Light Goose Conservation Order — Feb. 16–Apr. 6, 2019

  1. Electronic calls are permitted.
  2. Shotguns capable of holding no more than 7 shells (including magazine and chamber) are permitted.
  3. Shooting hours: ½ hour before sunrise to ½ hour after sunset.
  4. A valid hunting license, federal and state duck stamps, HIP certification and NJ Light Goose Conservation Order (CO) Permit ($2) are required.
  5. The NJ Light Goose CO Permit is available ONLY from the Division’s web site or by mailing: Light Goose Permit, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife, MC501-03, P.O. Box 420, Trenton, NJ 08625-0420. A request for mailed permits must include:
    1. Photocopy of 2019 Hunting or All-around Sportsman license that clearly shows the Conservation ID Number and DOB
    2. Check or money order for $2 payable to NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife
    3. Self-addressed, stamped envelope
    4. Daytime telephone number

The light goose permit will not be available until January 2019. As part of the permit process, hunters will be required to report their activity and harvest as requested on the permit. Check the Division’s web site in late winter for more details.

Falconry—Special season dates and bag limits apply. Contact NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife at (908) 735-8793.

Nontoxic Shot Regulations

In New Jersey, no person may take ducks, geese, brant, coots, rails, snipe or moorhens while possessing shot other than approved non-toxic shot which includes: steel, tungsten-iron, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-nickel-iron, tungsten-iron-nickel-tin, tungsten-bronze, tungsten-iron-polymer, bismuth-tin, copper-clad iron, tungsten-iron-copper-nickel, tungsten-tin-iron, corrosion-inhibited copper shot, and tungsten-tin-bismuth shot types. Shot size may not
exceed Size T (0.200 inch) for waterfowl. See www.fws.gov/birds/bird-enthusiasts/hunting/nontoxic.php for more information. For crows and woodcock, shot size may not exceed Size #4 and although lead shot is permitted, hunters are encouraged to use non-toxic shot.