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Wisconsin

Hunting

Migratory Bird Regulations

LICENSE STAMPS AND PERMITS

To lawfully hunt migratory game birds, you must obtain and carry with you:

  • A small game license• A Wisconsin Waterfowl stamp - if hunting waterfowl
  • A Federal Migratory Bird Stamp - if hunting waterfowl. A hard copy is required; a temporary stamp will be issued for use until actual stamp arrives. Note: Neither the state nor federal stamps are required if hunting coot, common gallinule, rails, mourning dove or woodcock or if under the age of 16.
  • A Canada Goose Permit - if hunting Canada geese in either the early or regular Canada goose season

All required license stamps and permits may be purchased at gowild.wi.gov. See page 8 for acceptable forms of proof.

GUNS AND AMMUNITION

While pursuing migratory game birds, it is illegal to:

Methods

  • Hunt with anything other than a shotgun fired from the shoulder, bow and arrow, crossbow or by falconry.

Other Methods

  • Take migratory game birds with a trap, snare, net, rifle, pistol/handgun, swivel gun, shotgun chambered for a shell larger than 10 gauge, punt gun, battery gun, machine gun, fishhook, poison, drug, explosive or stupefying substance or possess any shot shells larger than 10 gauge.

Shotgun Capacity

  • Hunt with a shotgun capable of holding more than 3 shells (magazine and chamber combined), unless it is plugged with a one-piece filler which cannot be removed without disassembling the gun.

Shot Type

  • Possess or use any type of lead or toxic shot when hunting ducks, geese, brant, snipe, rails, coot and moorhen.
  • Possess or use any type of lead or toxic shot while hunting mourning dove on DNR managed land. Note: Only non-toxic sizes BB, BBB, T or smaller are legal. Size F shot is illegal in Wisconsin. Only non-toxic shot may be possessed or used for hunting migratory and upland game bird species, including wild turkey, on all National Wildlife Refuges and Federal Waterfowl Production Areas.

STRUCTURES, BOATS AND VEHICLES

While pursuing migratory game birds,

it is illegal to:

  • Hunt from any pier, dam, dock, breakwater or similar artificial structure. Note: Class A Disabled Hunting Permit holders are exempt
  • Hunt from a sink box (a low floating device that has a depression affording the hunter, a means of concealment beneath the surface of the water).
  • Hunt or shoot from any moving boat other than those propelled by paddle, oars or pole. Motorboats and sailboats must have their motors completely shut off and/or the sail furled and its progress ceased before loading or discharging a firearm.
  • Establish a waterfowl blind on state property, including the bed of any navigable lake, prior to 7 days before the waterfowl season or leave it established beyond 7 days after the close of the waterfowl season.
  • Occupy or use any blind left on state property during the season unless the owner’s name, address in the English language and DNR customer ID number, in the English language and in lettering one square inch or larger, is affixed permanently to the blind and is readily visible and legible at all times.
  • Take migratory game birds from or with the aid or use of any vehicle (not including boats) except by qualified disabled persons under a valid DNR permit.
  • Use in any manner any air, water or motor-driven land conveyance, including any unmanned aircraft or drones, for the purposes of concentrating, driving, rallying or stirring up any migratory game bird to put them in the range of hunters

DEVICES

While pursuing migratory game birds,

it is illegal to:

  • Hunt with decoys that are:
    • Placed beyond 200 ft. from the cover in which the hunter is located.
    • Placed in the water prior to one hour before the opening of waterfowl shooting hours.
    • Left in the water more than 20 minutes after the close of waterfowl shooting hours.
    • Left in the water unattended. Note: you may leave decoys unattended on dry land.
    • Living, regardless of distance from the hunter.

Note: All live, tame or captive ducks and geese shall be removed for a period of 10 consecutive days prior to hunting and confined within an enclosure which substantially reduces the audibility of their calls and totally conceals such birds from the sight of migratory wild waterfowl.

  • Hunt with or while in possession of:
    • Electronic bird calls.
    • Recordings or imitations of bird calls while hunting waterfowl.

GENERAL RESTRICTIONS

Daily bag limit

It is illegal to take or attempt to take more than the daily bag or aggregate daily bag limit.

Possession limit

  • It is illegal to possess more than 3 times the daily bag limit.
  • It is illegal to possess more than the daily bag limit while at or in between where the game birds were harvested and the hunter's temporary or permanent abode.

Retrieval

It is illegal to kill or cripple any game bird without making every reasonable effort to retrieve such bird. Until every reasonable effort is made, crippled birds shall be included in the daily bag. Crippled birds should be immediately pursued to prevent loss of the bird.

Open water retrieval

Crippled birds which fall or move into open water should be immediately pursued. A hunter may shoot crippled birds from a boat propelled by paddle, oars or pole. A shotgun may be uncased but may not be loaded or discharged while in a boat with the motor running and until all forward motion from the motor has ceased.

Retrieval in refuges

Dead or crippled game may be retrieved from any refuge or closed area by hand either without a firearm, with an unloaded firearm which is enclosed in a proper carrying case or with the aid of a dog unless posted to prohibit public entry.

Tagging

  • It is illegal to give, put or leave any migratory game birds at any place or in the possession of another person unless the birds are tagged by the hunter with the:
    • hunter’s signature
    • hunter’s address
    • total number of birds involved, by species dates such birds were killed
  • No person or business may receive or have in custody any migratory game birds belonging to another person unless such birds are properly tagged and a record of such receipt is kept by the person or business.

Possession of live birds

Wounded birds reduced to possession shall be immediately killed and included in the daily bag limit.

Shipment

It is illegal to ship migratory game birds unless the package is marked on the outside with the:

  • Name and address of the person sending the birds
  • Name and address of the person to whom the birds are being sent
  • Number of birds, by species, contained in the package.

Transportation

Migratory game birds may be field dressed before they are transported from the field. However, the head or one fully feathered wing must remain attached to all migratory game birds while in the field or being transported from the field to the person’s permanent abode.

Note: This includes birds being transported between a hunting cabin, camp, motel or other temporary abode to the person’s permanent abode or preservation facility.

OPEN WATER RESTRICTIONS

It is illegal to hunt waterfowl in open water from or with the aid of any blind including any boat, canoe, raft, contrivance or similar device except as described below:

WaterbodyDistance From ShoreMust Blinds Be Anchored?Must Blinds Be Removed Daily?
Mississippi River, Lake Pepin & Grant County PortionsNo minimum distanceYesYes
Mississippi River, All Other PortionsMax. 100 ftYesYes
Great LakesMin. 500 ftNoYes
Big Green Lake (Green Lake County)Min. 500 ftNoYes
Other Large Lakes*Min. 500 ftYesYes

* These lakes include: Beaver Dam Lake (excluding Rakes and Trestle Works bays), Dodge county; Castle Rock Lake (south of railroad bridge and Cty G), Adam and Juneau counties; Fence Lake, Vilas county; Grindstone Lake, Sawyer county, Lake Puckaway (waters west of the west end of the dredge bank, excluding waters east of the west end of the dredge bank), Marquette and Green Lake counties; Lake Winnebago, Calumet, Fond du Lac and Winnebago counties; Lake Wisconsin (north of railroad bridge), Sauk and Columbia counties; Lake Wissota (south of Cty S and north of Cty X), Chippewa county; North Twin Lake, Vilas county; Petenwell Flowage (north of Hwy 21 and south of Hwy 73), Adams, Juneau and Wood counties; Shawano Lake, Shawano county; Trout Lake, Vilas county

  • Hunters may also hunt in open water with the aid of blinds if any of the following applies:
    • Any part of the boat or blind is located within 3 feet of any shoreline, including islands.
    • Any part of the boat or blind is located within 3 feet of a naturally occurring and un-manipulated growth of vegetation rooted to the navigable waterway's bed or shoreline. The vegetation must conceal at least 50% of the hunter and boat or blind when viewed from at least one direction.
  • Hunters possessing a Class A or B Disabled Permit may hunt only far enough from emergent vegetation to maintain the minimum depth of water necessary for operation of the boat. These blinds should be removed daily at the close of shooting hours.
  • Open water restrictions do not prohibit legal jump shooting activities from a non-motorized boat on narrow streams where shooting shore to shore is possible.
  • You may hunt in any open water area provided you are standing on the bottom without the aid of a blind.

BAITING

A baited area refers to any area on which salt, grain or other feed has been placed, exposed, deposited or scattered, if it could serve as an attractant or lure for migratory game birds to, on or over areas where hunters are attempting to take them. A baited area is considered to be baited for 10 days after complete removal of the bait. While pursuing migratory game birds:

  • It is illegal to hunt waterfowl, coots or mourning dove by the method or aid of baiting 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 hunt over crops that have been planted as a result of normal agricultural planting, normal agricultural harvest or fields post-harvest
  • It is legal to hunt mourning dove over manipulated agricultural crops or wildlife food plots. Manipulation may not include the distributing or scattering of seeds, grains or other feed after the seed or grain has been harvested or removed from the field where it was grown.

For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov, and search “baiting.” For federal waterfowl and dove baiting regulations, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife website at fws.gov.

YOUTH WATERFOWL SEASON

  • Only persons age 15 and younger may participate in the Youth Waterfowl Hunt
  • Youth participants may harvest any lawful species of waterfowl, including geese
  • All hunters must be accompanied by an adult mentor age 18 years or older.
  • The adult mentor may not accompany more than one youth hunter, except that an adult may accompany two youth hunters if at least one of the youth hunters is age 12 –15 and has completed a Hunter Education Safety Course.
  • The mentor may only harvest geese during this season as long as the goose season is open and they possess a Canada Goose Permit appropriate for the season being hunted.
  • Registration of harvest through the Harvest Information Program (HIP) is required.
  • All license and stamp requirements are waived for eligible youth waterfowl hunters, except the Canada Goose Hunting Permit. If this hunt occurs during the Statewide Early Canada Goose Season, (Sept. 1–15), an Early Canada Goose Hunting Permit is required. If it occurs on or after September 16, a Regular Canada Goose Season Hunting Permit is required.
  • All other regulations including shooting hours, blind and ammunition restrictions, daily bag limits and Hunting Mentorship Program rules will apply.

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS): To prevent the spread of VHS, a viral disease that affects fish, water must be drained from all boats, boat trailers and equipment immediately after exiting the water and before leaving the bank or shore of all waters statewide.

Boating: Be sure you are properly equipped while hunting with the aid of a boat. Ask for a boating regulation pamphlet at your local DNR office or visit dnr.wi.gov, and search “boat” for more information.

Bird Bands: If you obtain a bird band, please visit www.pwrc.usgs.gov/BBL/bblretrv to report the date and location of recovery and receive information on your banded bird.

Importation: For information regarding the importation of migratory game birds killed in another country, hunters should consult 50 CFR 20.61 - 20.66. A copy can be obtained from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service by contacting 5600 American Blvd. West, Suite 990, Bloomington, MN 55437-1458, (612) 713-5320, fws.gov

Harvest Information Program Registration

HEALTH ADVISORY

Contaminants such as PCBs and mercury build up in the body over time. Health problems linked to PCBs and mercury range from effects like poor balance or problems with memory, to a slight increase in your risk of a more serious disease like diabetes or cancer. Health professionals recommend limiting your exposure to PCBs and mercury in your diet as much as possible.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has issued the following health advice to protect you from exposure to PCBs and mercury in waterfowl taken in the following areas:

Lower Fox River from Lake Winnebago at Neenah and Menasha downstream, including Little Lake Butte des Morts, to the northeast city limits of KaukaunaRemove all skin and visible fat prior to cooking dabbling ducks using these waters.
Lower Fox River from the De Pere Dam to the river’s mouth at Green Bay and lower Green Bay south of a line from Point Sauble west to the west shore of Green BayConsumption of dabbling ducks should be limited to 1 meal/week for children and women of child-bearing years.Sheboygan River from Sheboygan Falls downstream to the
Sheboygan River from Sheboygan Falls downstream to the river’s mouth at Lake MichiganRemove all skin and visible fat prior to cooking Canada geese using the Sheboygan River.Sheboygan Harbor
Sheboygan HarborNo one should eat lesser scaup (bluebills) using this water.
Milwaukee River from Highway 167 (Thiensville) upstream to Lime Kiln Dam at Grafton and Cedar Creek from the Milwaukee River up to Bridge Road in the Village of CedarburgNo one should eat mallard ducks using this water
Milwaukee HarborNo one should eat black ducks, mallards, ruddy ducks or any diving ducks using this water.Waters in the City of Cedarburg
Waters in the City of CedarburgNo one should eat Canada geese using these waters.
Whitewater Lake and Rice Lake, Walworth CountyConsumption of Canada geese should be limited to one meal per month.Note:

Note: the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standard for PCBs in poultry is 3 parts per million calculated on a fat basis.

DON’T SHOOT A SWAN!

All wild swans are protected species in Wisconsin.

Shooting a swan may cost you up to $2,327 in penalties and a 3-year revocation of all hunting, fishing and trapping privileges. The primary snow goose range is west of Wisconsin and few snow geese migrate through Wisconsin. Be sure of your target!

PROTECTED SPECIES: All swans

  • Plumage: all white
  • Length: 4-5 ft
  • Long neck
  • Weight: 15-30 lbs.
  • Wingspan: 5.5-7 ft.

Note: Swans appear gray in their first year of life.

LEGAL GAME SPECIES: snow goose

  • Plumage: white with black wing tips
  • Short neck
  • Length: 1.5 ft.
  • Wingspan: 3.5 ft