Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations
- All licensed hunters (including lifetime and senior citizens) must possess a valid Harvest Information Program (HIP) registration card to hunt any migratory game birds.
- Youth waterfowl hunting season is open to youth ages 15 and younger for taking ducks, geese, coots, gallinules and mergansers. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a licensed adult age 18 or older. The accompanying adult may not hunt or possess a firearm.
- It is lawful to hunt waterfowl on major waterways, lakes and reservoirs of the state during the gun season for deer, should the waterfowl season be open.
- Only nontoxic shot size T or smaller approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be used or be in the hunter’s possession while hunting waterfowl.
- McClintic Wildlife Management Areaa.
- Hunting hours for waterfowl within the controlled waterfowl hunting area will be from legal shooting time until noon (prevailing time) Oct. 1-14, 2022.
- Waterfowl hunting in the controlled hunt area will be by permit only Oct. 1-14, 2022. Go to www.wvhunt.com to apply. This area is designated by signs, and includes Ponds 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 36, 39 and 40.
- Concurrent hunting is prohibited Oct. 1-14, 2022, in the controlled waterfowl hunting area.
- Waterfowl hunting in the controlled hunt area is permitted during the remainder of the waterfowl season without a permit.
- Green Bottom Wildlife Management Area
- Hunting hours for waterfowl will be from legal shooting time until noon Oct. 1-3, 2022.
- Concurrent hunting is prohibited Oct. 1-3, 2022.
- Pleasant Creek Wildlife Management Area
- Waterfowl hunting is restricted to Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, from Oct. 1-14, 2022. Waterfowl hunting is prohibitedOct. 2, 4, 6, 9, 11 and 13, 2022.
- Waterfowl hunting is not restricted for the remainder of the waterfowl season.
- Deed restrictions prohibit all hunting, including waterfowl, at Warden Lake Wildlife Management Area.
What’s new for 2022-2023
1. The Common Snipe is now Wilson’s Snipe.
2. The sea duck daily bag limit was reduced to four and may not include more than three (3) long-tailed ducks and three (3) scoters.
3. There is no longer a Hooded Merganser restriction. The daily merganser bag limit can include up to five hooded mergansers with a possession limit of 15 in aggregate.
Shooting hours for dove are from noon to sunset on opening day of the first segment and from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset during the remainder of the season. Shooting hours for rails, snipe, woodcock and waterfowl are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.
South Branch Wildlife Management Area
Hunting in the controlled mourning dove hunting area is restricted to dove hunting from state-controlled hunting posts, by permit only, during the period of Sept. 1-2, 2022, even if other hunting seasons run concurrently. Go to WVdnr.gov to apply. The controlled dove hunting area is marked by signs and includes marked hunting posts.Shooting hours in the controlled dove hunting area follow the statewide shooting hours for mourning doves.
Waterfowl hunting is permitted on private and public lands (state or federal lands owned, leased, licensed to or under the control of the West Virginia DNR for wildlife management purposes, including all waterways) on Sundays.
National Wildlife Refuges
Rules and Regulations for hunting on National Wildlife Refuges may be obtained from:
Ohio River Islands NWR
3982 Waverly Road, Williamstown, WV 26187304-375-2923
Canaan Valley NWR
6263 Appalachian Highway, Davis, WV 26260 304-866-3858
Summary of Federal Regulations
The following is a synopsis of federal regulations that pertain to the hunting of migratory game birds. Persons requiring more information should go to www.fws.gov/birds/hunter.php, where they will find a complete version of 50 CFR Part 20. When state law is different from the following federal law, the hunter must comply with the most restrictive law.
WHAT TERMS DO I NEED TO UNDERSTAND?
Migratory Birds are birds protected by federal law as a result of treaties signed with other countries. Protected migratory birds are listed in Title 50 Code of Federal Regulations, Section. 10.13. This list includes almost all birds found in the United States with the exception of the house sparrow, feral pigeon (commonly called rock dove), European starling, Eurasian collared-dove, mute swan and upland game birds (which are protected by state laws). All migratory birds are protected. However, a subset of migratory birds is classified as migratory game birds and may be hunted in accordance with state and federal regulations. The list of migratory game birds includes species of ducks, geese (including brant), swans, doves and pigeons, cranes, rails, coots, gallinules and moorhens, woodcock and snipe, if there is an open season.
Daily bag limit means the maximum number of migratory game birds of a single species or combination (aggregate) of species permitted to be taken by one person in any one day during the open season in any one specified geographic area for which a daily bag limit is prescribed.
Aggregate daily bag limit means the maximum number of migratory game birds permitted to be taken by one person in any one day during the open season when such person hunts in more than one specified geographic area and/or for more than one species for which a combined daily bag limit is prescribed. The aggregate daily bag limit is equal to, but shall not exceed, the largest daily bag limit prescribed for any one species or combination of species, or for any one specified geographic area in which taking occurs.
Possession limit means the maximum number of migratory game birds of a single species or a combination of species permitted to be possessed by any one person when lawfully taken in the United States in any one specified geographic area for which a possession limit is prescribed.
Aggregate possession limit means the maximum number of migratory game birds of a single species or combination of species taken in the United States permitted to be possessed by any one person when taking and possession occurs in more than one specified geographic area for which a possession limit is prescribed. The aggregate possession limit is equal to, but shall not exceed, the largest possession limit prescribed for any one of the species or specified geographic areas in which taking and possession occurs.
Personal abode means one’s principal or ordinary home or dwelling place, as distinguished from one’s temporary or transient place of abode or dwelling such as a hunting club, or any club house, cabin, tent or trailer house used as a hunting club, or any hotel, motel or rooming house used during a hunting, pleasure or business trip.
Migratory bird preservation facility means:
- Any person who, at their residence or place of business and for hire or other consideration; or
- Any taxidermist, cold-storage facility or locker plant which, for hire or other consideration; or
- Any hunting club which, in the normal course of operations; receives, possesses or has in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person for purposes of picking, cleaning, freezing, processing, storage or shipment.
Normal agricultural planting, harvesting or post-harvest manipulation means a planting or harvesting undertaken for the purpose of producing and gathering a crop, or manipulation after such harvest and removal of grain, that is conducted in accordance with official recommendations of State Extension Specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Normal agricultural operation means a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or agricultural practice that is conducted in accordance with official recommendations of state extension specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Normal soil stabilization practice means a planting for agricultural soil erosion control or post-mining land reclamation conducted in accordance with official recommendations of state extension specialists of the Cooperative Extension Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for agricultural soil erosion control.
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 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.
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. In addition, in West Virginia, this includes any other feed or edible enticement, or any non-edible facsimile of an edible enticement.
Manipulation means the alteration of natural vegetation or agricultural crops by activities that include but are not limited to mowing, shredding, discing, rolling, chopping, trampling, flattening, burning or herbicide treatments. The term manipulation does not include the distributing or scattering of grain, seed or other feed after removal from or storage on the field where grown.
Natural vegetation means any non-agricultural, native or naturalized plant species that grows at a site in response to planting or from existing seeds or other propagules. The term natural vegetation does not include planted millet. However, planted millet that grows on its own in subsequent years after the year of planting is considered natural vegetation.
WHAT HUNTING METHODS ARE ILLEGAL?
No persons shall take migratory game birds:
- With a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol, swivel gun, shotgun larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.
It is legal to take migratory game birds, including waterfowl, coots, and cranes, on or over the following lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas:
- Standing crops or flooded standing crops (including aquatics);
- Standing, flooded or manipulated natural vegetation; flooded harvested croplands; or lands or areas where seeds or grains have been scattered solely as the result of a normal agricultural planting, harvesting, post-harvest manipulation or normal soil stabilization practice;
- From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with natural vegetation;
- From a blind or other place of concealment camouflaged with vegetation from agricultural crops, as long as such camouflaging does not result in the exposing, depositing, distributing or scattering of grain or other feed; or
- Standing or flooded standing agricultural crops where grain is inadvertently scattered solely as a result of a hunter entering or exiting a hunting area, placing decoys or retrieving downed birds.
It is legal to take migratory game birds, except waterfowl, coots and cranes, on or over lands or areas that are not otherwise baited areas, and 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 as the result of a normal agricultural operation.
WANTON WASTE OF MIGRATORY GAME BIRDS
No person shall kill or cripple any migratory game bird without making a reasonable effort to retrieve the bird, and retain it in his actual custody, at the place where taken or between that place and either (a) his automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) his personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; or (c) a migratory bird preservation facility; or (d) a post office; or (e) a common carrier facility.
No person may take ducks, geese (including brant), or coots while possessing shot (either in shotshells or as loose shot for muzzleloading) other than approved non-toxic shot. For a list of approved non-toxic shot, see www.fws.gov/birds/hunter.php
OPENING DAY OF A SEASON
No person on the opening day of the season shall possess any freshly killed migratory game birds in excess of the daily bag limit, or aggregate daily bag limit, whichever applies.
FIELD POSSESSION LIMIT
No person shall possess, have in custody or transport more than the daily bag limit or aggregate daily bag limit, whichever applies, of migratory game birds, tagged or not tagged, at or between the place where taken and either (a) his automobile or principal means of land transportation; or (b) his personal abode or temporary or transient place of lodging; or (c) a migratory bird preservation facility; or (d) a post office; or (e) a common carrier facility.
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.
TERMINATION OF POSSESSION
Subject to all other requirements of this part, the possession of birds taken by any hunter shall be deemed to have ceased when such birds have been delivered by him to another person as a gift; or have been delivered by him to a post office, a common carrier, or a migratory bird preservation facility and consigned for transport by the Postal Service or a common carrier to some person other than the hunter.
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 donee, unless such birds have a tag attached, signed by the hunter who took the birds, stating such hunter’s address, the total number and species of birds and the date such birds were taken.
TRANSPORTATION OF BIRDS OF ANOTHER
No person shall transport 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.
MARKING PACKAGE OR CONTAINER
No person shall transport by the Postal Service or a common carrier migratory game birds unless the package or container in which such birds are transported has the name and address of the shipper and the consignee and an accurate statement of the numbers of each species of birds therein contained clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof.
MIGRATORY BIRD HUNTING AND CONSERVATION STAMP
The law requires that each waterfowl hunter 16 years of age and older must carry on his person a Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Federal Duck Stamp) that is validated by the hunter signing the stamp in ink across the face of the stamp.
Report band recoveries online at www.reportband.gov. The 1-800-327-BAND toll-free phone number has been discontinued. People calling this toll-free number will be directed to report their bird bands using the REPORTBAND website. We rely heavily on your cooperation in reporting banded birds to help in their management, and we would like to thank you for your continued support in this effort.