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September 15, 1998

For more information contact:
Paul Castelli at 609-748-2047

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife today announced tentative 1998-99 migratory bird hunting season regulations. New this year, are Harvest Information Program (HIP) requirements for migratory waterfowl hunters who wish to participate in the 1998-99 season.

"All migratory bird hunters must obtain a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number before hunting ducks, geese, brant, woodcock, rails, snipe, coots or gallinules in New Jersey," said Division Director Bob McDowell. "Hunters can get their HIP number simply by calling 1-800-WETLANDS."

Hunters must have their hunting license ready when calling for their HIP number. After calling, the HIP number should be written in the space provided on the front of the hunting license. The number is valid until the end of the hunting season on March 10, 1999. The phone call and HIP number are free. The information provided by sportsmen and women is confidential and will only be used by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for conducting harvest surveys to better manage migratory game bird populations. If hunters plan on pursuing migratory game birds in another state, they will be required to obtain a HIP number for that state by following that individual state's procedure. Likewise, if hunters have a HIP number in a state other than New Jersey, they will still be required to obtain a HIP number by calling 1-800-WETLANDS before hunting migratory birds in New Jersey.

"This year migratory bird hunting regulations will be similar to last year when sportsmen and women enjoyed 60 days of duck hunting with a regular daily bag of four ducks and two additional teal," said Paul Castelli, principal wildlife biologist and leader of the Division's Waterfowl Ecology and Management Program. "With the recent development of regulations based on eastern mallard populations, as well as the USFWS granting compensatory days to states with Sunday hunting closures, Garden State hunters will again enjoy one of the longest duck hunting seasons in more than 40 years."

"While habitat conditions for waterfowl in the prairie pothole region of North America declined from last year, waterfowl experienced excellent habitat conditions in eastern North America this spring and a strong fall flight is expected in the Atlantic Flyway," Castelli added.

The daily bag limit of four ducks may not include more than one black duck, two wood ducks, two hen mallards, one pintail, two redheads and one canvasback. In addition to the four duck daily bag, an extra daily teal limit of two green-winged or blue-winged teal, singly or in aggregate, may be taken during the entire season.

The regular Canada goose season will again be closed since migrant goose numbers remain below desired levels. However, a statewide September season and a limited winter season, both targeting resident geese, will be available to hunters who obtain the necessary $2 permit from the Division. Permits will be on sale at Division offices throughout the September season.

Atlantic brant populations are at adequate levels and above average production of young is expected this summer. The brant season will remain at 50 days with a two brant per day bag limit.

Snow geese numbers remain at exceptionally high levels and above average young production is expected. Biologists continue to be concerned about potential impacts snow geese may have on fragile arctic nesting habitats. Serious damage to coastal wetlands in New Jersey and other states has also been documented. This damage impacts the snow geese themselves, as well as other wildlife that depend upon these habitats. The season length for snow geese is already 107 days, the longest allowed under the Migratory Bird Treaty. The bag limit will increase this year to 15 snow geese per day with no possession limit.

Youth Waterfowl Hunting Day will be Saturday, September 26. Youths aged 10-15 are eligible and must be accompanied by an adult who is at least 18 years old and possesses a valid hunting license. The youth hunting day has been scheduled before the opening of the regular duck season, so that youngsters can enjoy a day afield without crowds or competition from more experienced hunters. Ducks and Atlantic brant are legal game species. Youths and/or their adult companions may also hunt Canada geese if they have a special September Canada goose hunting permit. The bag limits for all species are the same as during the regular season. The tentative 1998-99 migratory bird hunting season dates are not expected to change, but these dates are tentative until approved by the USFWS in mid-September. The 1998-99 Migratory Bird Regulation Supplement will be available at Division offices, license agents and sporting goods stores throughout the state in late September.