Bird hunting season dates and bag limits announced in Pennsylvania

10 May 2024- The Pennsylvania Game Commission has today announced their set date for migratory bird hunting seasons across the Commonwealth.

Annual migratory game bird seasons are selected by states from frameworks established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Game Commission selections were made after reviewing last year’s hunter harvests, population survey data and public input.

There is one significant change to Pennsylvania waterfowl seasons this year, said Game Commission Waterfowl Biologist Amanda Hoyt. The regular season length for Canada geese in the Atlantic Population Zone has decreased from 45 to 30 days but the daily bag limit remains three.

“With the population recently falling just below the threshold for a “liberal” season, the harvest strategy mandates a shorter hunting season for this population,” said Hoyt.

In addition, hunter preference resulted in small changes to the Lake Erie and Northwest Duck Zone seasons. In the Lake Erie Duck Zone, the portion of the season with a two-bird daily scaup bag limit will be the last 20 days of the season rather than the first 20 days. The Northwest Duck Zone season saw a week shift from the October-November segment into the December-January segment, which also results in the Junior, Veteran and Active Duty Military Day for this zone shifting from December to late September.

Other migratory game bird seasons are similar to last year’s seasons. 

Hunters encouraged to report banded birds

Migratory game bird hunters are encouraged to report banded ducks, geese, doves and woodcock they harvest online at www.reportband.gov.  Hunters will be requested to provide information on where, when and what species of migratory birds were taken, in addition to the band number. This information is crucial to the successful management of migratory birds. 

Wildlife Operations Division Chief Ian Gregg stressed that reporting leg-bands helps the Game Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service learn more about migratory bird movements, and survival and harvest rates, which are critical to population management and setting of hunting regulations.

“Pennsylvania continues to monitor migratory game bird populations in cooperation with other wildlife management agencies across North America,” Gregg explained. “Information provided by hunters is essential to manage migratory game bird populations and support sustainable hunting opportunities through time. By reporting the recovery of a leg-band, hunters not only assist in managing the resource, but also have an opportunity to learn interesting facts about the bird they harvested.”

2024-25 MIGRATORY GAME BIRD SEASONS AND BAG LIMITS

DUCKS:

North Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 12-26, and Nov. 19-Jan. 11. 

South Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 12-19, and Nov. 19-Jan. 18.

Northwest Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Oct. 12-Nov. 29, and Dec. 23-Jan. 11. 

Lake Erie Zone: Ducks, sea ducks, coots and mergansers, Nov. 4-Jan. 11.

Total Duck Bag Limits: 6 daily, 18 in possession of any species, except for the following restrictions: daily limit may not include more than 4 mallards including no more than 2 hen mallards, 2 black ducks, 3 wood ducks, 2 redheads, 2 canvasbacks, 1 pintail, 4 sea ducks; including no more than 3 eiders and no more than 1 female eider, 3 long-tailed ducks, and 3 scoters.  Daily limit for scaup varies; see below. Possession limits are three times the daily limits.

Scaup Bag Limits:

North Zone: 1 scaup daily, Oct. 12-26 and Nov. 19-Dec. 19; 2 scaup daily, Dec. 20-Jan.11

South Zone: 1 scaup daily, Oct. 12-19 and Nov. 19-Dec. 26; 2 scaup daily, Dec. 27-Jan. 18

Northwest Zone: 1 scaup daily, Oct. 12-Nov. 27; 2 scaup daily, Nov. 28-29 and Dec. 23-Jan. 11

Lake Erie Zone: 1 scaup daily, Nov. 4- Dec. 19; 2 scaup daily, Dec. 20-Jan. 11

Mergansers: 5 daily, 15 in possession

Coots: 15 daily, 45 in possession.

CANADA GEESE (includes WHITE-FRONTED GEESE):

Resident Population Goose Zone (RP)

All of Pennsylvania except for the Atlantic Population zone. Sept. 2-25 (8-goose daily bag limit); and Oct. 26-Nov. 29, Dec. 16-Jan. 18, and Jan. 31-Feb. 22 (5-goose daily bag limit in latter 3 segments).

Exception: See hunting digest

Atlantic Population Zone (AP)

The area east of SR 97 from Maryland State Line to the intersection of SR 194, east of SR 194 to intersection of US Route 30, south of US Route 30 to SR 441, east of SR 441 to SR 743, east of SR 743 to intersection of I-81, east of I-81 to intersection of I-80, south of I-80 to New Jersey state line. Sept. 2-25 (8-goose daily bag limit); and Nov. 23-29 and Dec. 23-Jan. 18 (3-goose daily bag limit in latter two segments).

Exception: See hunting digest

BRANT (All Zones)Oct. 12-Nov. 15. 1 daily, 3 in possession.

LIGHT GEESE (Snow Geese and Ross’ Geese):

            Atlantic Population Zone:

Regular: Oct. 1-Jan. 25, 25 daily, no possession limit.

               Conservation Order: Jan. 27 – April 25; 25 daily, no possession limit.

               Resident Population Zone:

Regular: Oct. 22-Feb. 22; 25 daily, no possession limit.

Conservation Order: Feb. 24 – April 25; 25 daily, no possession limit.

HARLEQUIN DUCKS, and TUNDRA and TRUMPETER SWANS: No open season.

Junior Days:

Sept. 21; Open to junior hunters and mentored youth hunters when properly accompanied, for ducks, mergansers, gallinules and coots, and Canada geese as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season. Hunting hours to close at sunset.

Junior, Veteran and Active Duty Military Days:

In Lake Erie Zone; Oct. 26; in Northwest Zone, Sept. 28; in North Zone, Nov. 2; and in South Zone, Nov. 9. Open to junior hunters and mentored youth hunters, when properly accompanied; veterans (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code); and members of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty (other than for training) for ducks, mergansers, gallinules and coots, and Canada geese as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season.

Veteran and Active Duty Military Days:

In Lake Erie Zone; Jan. 18; in Northwest Zone, Jan. 18; in North Zone, Jan. 18; and in South Zone, Jan. 25. Veterans (as defined in section 101 of title 38, United States Code); and members of the Armed Forces on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserves on active duty (other than for training) for ducks, mergansers, gallinules and coots, and Canada geese as permitted. Same daily bag limits as regular season.

DOVES: Sept. 2-Nov. 29, and Dec. 21-Jan. 4. 15 daily, 45 in possession.

WOODCOCK: Oct. 19-Nov. 29, and Dec. 16-24. 3 daily, 9 in possession.

WILSON’S SNIPE: Oct. 19-Nov. 29, and Dec. 16-24. 8 daily, 24 in possession.

GALLINULES: Sept. 2-Nov. 21. 3 daily, 9 in possession.

VIRGINIA AND SORA RAILS: Sept. 2-Nov. 21. Bag limits by single species or in the aggregate; 3 daily, 9 in possession.

CLAPPER AND KING RAILS: No open season.