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Migratory Bird Regulations

Hunting Regulations Icon New Jersey Hunting

New Jersey Migratory Bird Regulations

Major Changes for the 2017–18 Season

  • The black duck daily bag limit has increased to two birds.
  • The pintail daily bag limit is reduced to one bird.
  • Barnegat Inlet is closed to all migratory bird hunting.
  • Brant season will be concurrent with duck season in each zone with a bag limit of 2 brant.
  • The Special Sea Duck Area was changed to include only waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

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

Harvest Information Program (HIP)

All hunters 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
  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.

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:
  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.

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

Summary of Federal Regulations

The following is a synopsis of Federal Regulations that pertain to the hunting of migratory game birds. More information can be found at: or by calling the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Law Enforcement Office at (908) 787-1321.

No persons shall take migratory game birds:

  • By the aid of baiting, or on or over any baited area, where a person knows or reasonably should know that the area is or has been baited. Baiting means the direct or indirect 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, on, or over any areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Baited area means any area on which salt, grain, or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, if that salt, grain, or other feed could serve as a lure or attraction for migratory game birds to, on, or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. Any such area will remain a baited area for ten days following the complete removal of all such salt, grain, or other feed.
  • With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machinegun, fish hook, poison, drug, explosive, or stupefying substance;
  • With a shotgun of any description capable of holding more than three shells, unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler, incapable of removal without disassembling the gun, so its total capacity does not exceed three shells. Exceptions: In New Jersey, shotguns capable of holding no more than 7 shells are permitted during the September Canada goose season and the Light Goose Conservation Order.
  • From or by means, aid, or use of a sinkbox or any other type of low floating device, having a depression affording the hunter a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water;
  • From or by means, aid, or use of any motor vehicle, motor-driven land conveyance, or aircraft of any kind, except that paraplegics and persons missing one or both legs may take from any stationary motor vehicle or stationary motor-driven land conveyance;
  • From or by means of any motorboat or other craft having a motor attached, or any sailboat, unless the motor has been completely shut off and/or the sails furled, and its progress there from has ceased. Exception: crippled birds may be shot from craft under power in the Special Sea Duck Area.
  • By the use or aid of live birds as decoys; although not limited to, it shall be a violation of this paragraph for any person to take migratory waterfowl on an area where tame or captive live ducks or geese are present unless such birds are and have been for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to such taking, confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such birds from the sight of wild migratory waterfowl;
  • By the use or aid of recorded or electrically amplified bird calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird calls or sounds. Exceptions: In New Jersey, hunters can use electronic calls during: crow season, September Canada goose season and the Light Goose Conservation Order.
  • By means or aid of any motor driven land, water, or air conveyance, or any sailboat used for the purpose of or resulting in the concentrating, driving, rallying, or stirring up of any migratory bird.

Tagging requirement—No person shall put or leave any migratory game birds at any place (other than at his personal abode), or in the custody of another person for picking, cleaning, processing, shipping, transportation, or storage (including temporary storage), or for the purpose of having taxidermy services performed, unless such birds have a tag attached, signed by the hunter, stating his address, the total number and species of birds, and the date such birds were killed. Migratory game birds being transported in any vehicle as the personal baggage of the possessor shall not be considered as being in storage or temporary storage.

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 properly tagged.

Species identification requirement—No person shall transport within the United States any migratory game birds, except doves and band-tailed pigeons, unless the head or one fully feathered wing remains attached to each such bird at all times while being transported from the place where taken until they have arrived at the personal abode of the possessor or a migratory bird preservation facility.

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).


  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. 11, 2017) is 8 a.m. on wildlife management areas stocked with pheasant and quail except the tidal waters or marshes of those 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. See map below.
  5. 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) 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.
  6. Waterfowl hunting on Delaware River is governed by state boundaries and restricted to respective state seasons.
  7. Permanent blinds may not be constructed on some state wildlife management areas.
  8. Arrows with flu-flu type fletching are required for taking flying game birds. Arrows with edged heads are prohibited for taking flying game birds.

2018 Spring Light Goose Conservation Order — Feb. 16–Apr. 7, 2018

  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 2018 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 2018. 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 and tungsten-tin-bismuth shot types. Shot size may not exceed Size T (0.200 inch) for waterfowl. See 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.

Hunting Hours

  • 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.

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.

Barnegat Light Inlet Waterfowl Hunting Closure Area

Attention Waterfowl Hunters

Special Regulations Permitted During September Canada Goose Season,
Sept. 1–30, 2017 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.

Migratory Bird Zoned Hunting Seasons, 2017-18

Migratory Bird Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag Limits1

North Zone

Ducks, Brant, Mergansers and Coot

Oct. 14–Oct. 21
Nov. 11–Jan. 11

Ducks: 6 in aggregate from Duck Limits* below; Mergansers2: 5 Coot: 15 Brant: 2

Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

Nov. 11–Nov. 25
Dec. 9–Jan. 20


Youth Waterfowl Days

Oct. 7 and Feb. 3

Same limits for ducks, Canada geese, brant and light geese within each zone

South Zone

Ducks, Brant,
Mergansers and Coot

Oct. 21–Oct. 28
Nov. 18–Jan. 18

Ducks: 6 in aggregate from Duck Limits* below; Mergansers2: 5 Coot: 15 Brant: 2

Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

Nov. 18–Dec. 2
Dec. 9–Jan. 20


Youth Waterfowl Days

Oct. 14 and Feb. 3

Same limits for ducks, Canada geese, brant and light geese within each zone

Coastal Zone

Ducks, Brant, Mergansers and Coot

Nov. 9–Nov. 11
Nov. 23–Jan. 27

Ducks: 6 in aggregate from Duck Limits* below; Mergansers2: 5 Coot: 15 Brant: 2

Canada Geese (Regular Season) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

Nov. 9–Nov. 11
Nov. 18–Feb. 15


Youth Waterfowl Days

Nov. 4 and Feb. 10

Same limits for ducks, Canada geese, brant and light geese within each zone

Migratory Bird Statewide Hunting Seasons

Migratory Bird Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag Limits1

Canada Geese (September Season3 )

Sept. 1–Sept. 30


Light Geese – Regular Season4

Oct. 17–Feb. 15

25, singly or in aggregate

Light Geese – Conservation Order4

Feb. 16–Apr. 7

No limit

Rail (Sora, Clapper and Virginia) and Gallinule

Sept. 1–Nov. 9

Sora & Virginia rail: 25 total or aggregate;
Gallinule and Clapper rail: 10

Common Snipe

Sept. 16–Dec. 30



Aug. 14–Dec. 2

No limit

Dec. 11–Mar. 17

Mon., Thur., Fri., Sat. Only

Other Migratory Bird Seasons

Migratory Bird Species

Season Dates

Daily Bag Limits1

Woodcock – North Zone

Oct. 21–Nov. 25


Woodcock – South Zone

Nov. 11–Dec. 2 and
Dec. 16–Dec. 29


Sea Ducks in Special Sea Duck Area Only5
(Black, Surf and White-winged Scoter; Long-tailed Duck and Eider only)

Nov. 4–Jan. 12

5, but no more than 4 scoters in aggregate, 4 long-tailed ducks or
4 eiders

Sea Ducks Outside Special Sea Duck Area

Same as ducks by zone

Count toward the bag limit of 6 ducks

Canada Geese (Special Winter Season Zones) — Singly or in aggregate to include Cackling and White-fronted Goose

Jan. 22–Feb. 15


Swans, harlequin duck, king rail and mourning dove


No Season

*Ducks Limits – 6 ducks in aggregate and may not include more than:

Black duck – 2

Black-bellied whistling duck – 6

Blue-winged teal – 6

Bufflehead – 6 Canvasback – 2

Eider – 4

Gadwall – 6

Goldeneye – 6

Green-winged teal – 6

Long-tailed duck – 4

Mallard – 4 (including no more than 2 hens)

Pintail – 1

Redhead – 2

Ring-necked duck – 6

Ruddy duck – 6

Scaup – 2

Scoter – 4

Shoveler – 6

Wigeon – 6

Wood duck – 3

Migratory Bird Zones

All migratory bird zones are described in detail at

Waterfowl Zones

Applies to hunting duck, coot, merganser, regular season Canada goose, brant, regular season light goose and Youth Waterfowl Days.

Coastal Zone: That portion of the State seaward of a line beginning at the New York State line in Raritan Bay and extending west along the New York State line to NJ 440 at Perth Amboy; west on NJ 440 to the Garden State Parkway; south on the Garden State Parkway to NJ 109; south on NJ 109 to Cape May County Rt. 633 (Lafayette St.); south on Lafayette St. to Jackson St.; south on Jackson St. to the shoreline at Cape May; west along the shoreline of Cape May beach to COLREGS Demarcation Line 80.503 at Cape May Point; south along COLREGS Demarcation Line 80.503 to the Delaware state line in Delaware Bay.

North Zone: That portion of the State west of the Coastal Zone and north of a line extending west from the Garden State Parkway on NJ 70 to the NJ Turnpike, north on the turnpike to U.S. 206, north on U.S. 206 to U.S. 1 at Trenton, west on U.S. 1 to the Pennsylvania State line in the Delaware River.

South Zone: Portion of the State not within the North Zone or the Coastal Zone.

Special Sea Duck Zone

The area defined as all New Jersey coastal waters seaward from the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) Demarcation Lines shown on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Nautical Charts and further described in 33 CFR 80 Districts 1 and 5.

Woodcock Zones

North Zone—North of Rt. 70 from Point Pleasant to Camden.

South Zone—South of Rt. 70 from Point Pleasant to Camden.

Special Winter Canada Goose Season Hunting Areas

The two hatched areas are open to hunting. Visit for detailed Special Winter Canada Goose Season hunting areas and all migratory bird hunting zone boundaries.

New Jersey Waterfowlers Clinic

Every year, experienced waterfowlers throughout New Jersey join together dedicating their time and energy to present the New Jersey Waterfowlers Clinic—an all day, free seminar covering “everything you ever wanted to know” about the traditions of waterfowl hunting in New Jersey. This year is no exception!

Forty years ago, the clinic began as an opportunity to introduce young people to the world of waterfowl hunting. However, with the growing interest among men and women, as well as youths, the event has been transformed into an opportunity for anyone 10 and up to spend a fun and interesting day learning about waterfowling!

Our full-day clinic covers waterfowling from A to Z, and includes bird identification, decoys, calling, guns and ammo, boats, safety, laws and ethics, do’s and don’ts, clothing and camo, and even a demonstration by working retrievers! The value of the day is priceless! It’s a unique chance to ask any question you’ve ever had about the sport—to be answered by the most experienced waterfowlers in New Jersey. Our instructors have a combined 300 years of experience!

  • Free breakfast and lunch to all attending!
  • Date: Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017
  • Location: Tip Seaman Park, Tuckerton, NJ
  • Time: 8 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Please register in advance by calling Marty Kristiansen at (732) 977-5648 so we can plan accordingly.

We hope you’ll join us this year and share our enthusiasm for all that is waterfowling!