Wildlife Illinois

Hunt Planner

Announcements

Public Duck and Goose Hunting Area Permit First Lottery Begins August 16!

Waterfowl

Season Dates & Limits

Zone Maps

Zone Descriptions

Ducks (Including Mergansers) and Coots

  • North Duck Zone: That portion of the state north of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Peotone-Beecher Road to Illinois Route 50, south along Illinois Route 50 to Wilmington-Peotone Road, west along Wilmington-Peotone Road to Illinois Route 53, north along Illinois Route 53 to New River Road, northwest along New River Road to Interstate Highway 55, south along I-55 to Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road, west along Pine Bluff-Lorenzo Road to Illinois Route 47, north along Illinois Route 47 to I-80, west along I-80 to I-39, south along I-39 to Illinois Route 18, west along Illinois Route 18 to Illinois Route 29, south along Illinois Route 29 to Illinois Route 17, west along Illinois Route 17 to the Mississippi River, and due south across the Mississippi River to the Iowa border.
  • Central Duck Zone: That portion of the state south of the North Duck Zone line to a line extending west from the Indiana border along I-70 to Illinois Route 4, south along Illinois Route 4 to Illinois Route 161, west along Illinois Route 161 to Illinois Route 158, south and west along Illinois Route 158 to Illinois Route 159, south along Illinois Route 159 to Illinois Route 3, south along Illinois Route 3 to St. Leo’s Road, south along St. Leo’s road to Modoc Road, west along Modoc Road to Modoc Ferry Road, southwest along Modoc Ferry Road to Levee Road, southeast along Levee Road to County Route 12 (Modoc Ferry entrance Road), south along County Route 12 to the Modoc Ferry route and southwest on the Modoc Ferry route across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.
  • South Duck Zone: That portion of the state south and east of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Interstate 70, south along U.S. Highway 45, to Illinois Route 13, west along Illinois Route 13 to Greenbriar Road, north on Greenbriar Road to Sycamore Road, west on Sycamore Road to N. Reed Station Road, south on N. Reed Station Road to Illinois Route 13, west along Illinois Route 13 to Illinois Route 127, south along Illinois Route 127 to State Forest Road (1025 N), west along State Forest Road to Illinois Route 3, north along Illinois Route 3 to the south bank of the Big Muddy River, west along the south bank of the Big Muddy River to the Mississippi River, west across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.
  • South Central Duck Zone: The remainder of the state between the south border of the Central Zone and the North border of the South Zone.

Geese

  • North Goose Zone: That portion of the state north of a line extending west from the Indiana border along Interstate 80 to I-39, south along I-39 to Illinois Route 18, west along Illinois Route 18 to Illinois Route 29, south along Illinois Route 29 to Illinois Route 17, west along Illinois Route 17 to the Mississippi River, and due south across the Mississippi River to the Iowa border.
  • Central Goose Zone: That portion of the state south of the North Goose Zone line to a line extending west from the Indiana border along I-70 to Illinois Route 4, south along Illinois Route 4 to Illinois Route 161, west along Illinois Route 161 to Illinois Route 158, south and west along Illinois Route 158 to Illinois Route 159, south along Illinois Route 159 to Illinois Route 3, south along Illinois Route 3 to St. Leo’s Road, south along St. Leo’s road to Modoc Road, west along Modoc Road to Modoc Ferry Road, southwest along Modoc Ferry Road to Levee Road, southeast along Levee Road to County Route 12 (Modoc Ferry entrance Road), south along County Route 12 to the Modoc Ferry route and southwest on the Modoc Ferry route across the Mississippi River to the Missouri border.
  • South Goose Zone: Same zones as for ducks.
  • South Central Goose Zone: Same zones as for ducks.

North Zone

SPECIESDATESHOURSDAILY LIMITPOSSESSION LIMITADDITIONAL REGULATIONS
Teal
(early season)
9-24 Sep 2023Sunrise to Sunset618Blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and cinnamon teal are the only legal duck species during this season. Daily and possession limits are for all teal species combined (in the aggregate)
Rails
(Sora & Virginia)
9 Sep - 17 Nov 20232575Daily and possession limits are for both rail species combined (in the aggregate)
Snipe
(Wilson's)
9 Sep - 24 Dec 2023824
Ducks
(but see Scaup below)
21 Oct - 19 Dec 20231/2 hour before sunrise to sunset618Basic daily limit is 6 ducks of any species. However, daily limit can consist of no more than the following: 4 mallards (of which no more than 2 can be hen mallards), 3 wood ducks, 2 Scaup for the first 45 days in each zone, 1 Scaup for the last 15 days in each zone, 2 redheads, 2 canvasback, 2 black ducks, 1 pintail and 1 mottled duck. Possession limit for ducks is three times the daily limit by species and sex
MergansersSame as ducks515Mergansers do not count toward your daily limit of ducks, but only 2 can be hooded mergansers. Merganser possession limit is no more than three times their daily limit, including max of 6 hooded mergansers
CootsSame as ducks1545
Scaup
(aka, Bluebills)
21 Oct - 4 Dec 20232/day6FWS regulations require 45 days with 2/day bag limit, 15 days with 1/day bag limit. Will be different in each zone
5 Dec - 19 Dec 20231/day3
Canada geese
(early season)
1–15 Sep 2023515
Canada geese
(regular season)
21 Oct 2023 - 18 Jan 2024
39
Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)21 Oct 2023 - 18 Jan 2024
20Unlimited
BrantSame as light
geese
13
White-fronted Geese
(aka, Specklebellies)
23 Oct 2023 - 18 Jan 2024 26
Conservation Order Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)19 Jan - 30 Apr 2024
1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunsetUnlimitedUnlimitedThe following apply to the Conservation Order only: 1) unplugged shotguns may be used and there is no limit to the number of shells that may be placed in a shotgun, 2) electronic calling devices may be used, 3) federal duck stamp not required, 4) Illinois duck stamp and hunting license is required
Youth waterfowl14-15 Oct 2023
1/2 hour before sunrise to sunsetSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsThe following apply to the Youth season only: 1) youth hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and must have a hunting license and HIP registration/ certification unless hunting on property where they reside; 2) no stamps are required for youths under age 16; 3) federal waterfowl stamps are required for all hunters age 16 and older; 4) hunters aged 18 years and older may not hunt waterfowl and coots during the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, even if hunting with a Youth License

Central Zone

SPECIESDATESHOURSDAILY LIMITPOSSESSION LIMITADDITIONAL REGULATIONS
Teal
(early season)
9-24 Sep 2023
Sunrise to Sunset618Blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and cinnamon teal are the only legal duck species during this season. Daily and possession limits are for all teal species combined (in the aggregate)
Rails
(Sora & Virginia)
9 Sep-17 Nov 2023
2575Daily and possession limits are for both rail species combined (in the aggregate)
Snipe
(Wilson's)
9 Sep-24 Dec 2023
824
Ducks
(but see Scaup below)
28 Oct - 26 Dec 2023
1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset618Basic daily limit is 6 ducks of any species. However, daily limit can consist of no more than the following: 4 mallards (of which no more than 2 can be hen mallards), 3 wood ducks, 2 Scaup for the first 45 days in each zone, 1 Scaup for the last 15 days in each zone, 2 redheads, 2 canvasback, 2 black ducks, 1 pintail and 1 mottled duck. Possession limit for ducks is three times the daily limit by species and sex
MergansersSame as ducks515Mergansers do not count toward your daily limit of ducks, but only 2 can be hooded mergansers. Merganser possession limit is no more than three times their daily limit, including max of 6 hooded mergansers
CootsSame as ducks1545
Scaup
(aka, Bluebills)
28 Oct - 11 Dec 2023
2/day6FWS regulations require 45 days with 2/day bag limit, 15 days with 1/day bag limit. Will be different in each zone
12 - 26 Dec 2023 1/day3
Canada geese
(early season)
1-15 Sep 2023515
Canada geese
(regular season)
28 Oct 2023 - 5 Nov 2023
&
12 Nov 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
39
Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)28 Oct 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
20Unlimited
BrantSame as light
geese
13
White-fronted Geese
(aka, Specklebellies)
5 Nov 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
26
Conservation Order Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)1 Feb - 30 Apr 20241/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunsetUnlimitedUnlimitedThe following apply to the Conservation Order only: 1) unplugged shotguns may be used and there is no limit to the number of shells that may be placed in a shotgun, 2) electronic calling devices may be used, 3) federal duck stamp not required, 4) Illinois duck stamp and hunting license is required
Youth waterfowl21-22 Oct 2023
1/2 hour before sunrise to sunsetSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsThe following apply to the Youth season only: 1) youth hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and must have a hunting license and HIP registration/ certification unless hunting on property where they reside; 2) no stamps are required for youths under age 16; 3) federal waterfowl stamps are required for all hunters age 16 and older; 4) hunters aged 18 years and older may not hunt waterfowl and coots during the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, even if hunting with a Youth License

South Central Zone

SPECIESDATESHOURSDAILY LIMITPOSSESSION LIMITADDITIONAL REGULATIONS
Teal
(early season)
9-24 Sep 2023Sunrise to Sunset618Blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and cinnamon teal are the only legal duck species during this season. Daily and possession limits are for all teal species combined (in the aggregate)
Rails
(Sora & Virginia)
9 Sep-17 Nov 2023
2575Daily and possession limits are for both rail species combined (in the aggregate)
Snipe
(Wilson's)
9 Sep-24 Dec 2023
824
Ducks
(but see Scaup below)
11 Nov 2023 - 9 Jan 20241/2 hour before sunrise to sunset618Basic daily limit is 6 ducks of any species. However, daily limit can consist of no more than the following: 4 mallards (of which no more than 2 can be hen mallards), 3 wood ducks, 2 Scaup for the first 45 days in each zone, 1 Scaup for the last 15 days in each zone, 2 redheads, 2 canvasback, 2 black ducks, 1 pintail and 1 mottled duck. Possession limit for ducks is three times the daily limit by species and sex
MergansersSame as ducks515Mergansers do not count toward your daily limit of ducks, but only 2 can be hooded mergansers. Merganser possession limit is no more than three times their daily limit, including max of 6 hooded mergansers
CootsSame as ducks1545
Scaup
(aka, Bluebills)
11 Nov - 25 Dec 2023
2/day6FWS regulations require 45 days with 2/day bag limit, 15 days with 1/day bag limit. Will be different in each zone
26 Dec 2023 - 9 Jan 20241/day3
Canada geese
(early season)
1–15 Sep 2023215
Canada geese
(regular season)
11 Nov 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
39
Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)11 Nov 2023 - 31 Jan 202420Unlimited
BrantSame as light geese13
White-fronted Geese
(aka, Specklebellies)
11 Nov 2023 - 31 Jan 202426
Conservation Order Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)1 Feb - 30 Apr 20241/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunsetUnlimitedUnlimitedThe following apply to the Conservation Order only: 1) unplugged shotguns may be used and there is no limit to the number of shells that may be placed in a shotgun, 2) electronic calling devices may be used, 3) federal duck stamp not required, 4) Illinois duck stamp and hunting license is required
Youth waterfowl4-5 Nov 2023
1/2 hour before sunrise to sunsetSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsThe following apply to the Youth season only: 1) youth hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and must have a hunting license and HIP registration/ certification unless hunting on property where they reside; 2) no stamps are required for youths under age 16; 3) federal waterfowl stamps are required for all hunters age 16 and older; 4) hunters aged 18 years and older may not hunt waterfowl and coots during the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, even if hunting with a Youth License

South Zone

SPECIESDATESHOURSDAILY LIMITPOSSESSION LIMITADDITIONAL REGULATIONS
Teal
(early season)
9-24 Sep 2023
Sunrise to Sunset618Blue-winged teal, green-winged teal and cinnamon teal are the only legal duck species during this season. Daily and possession limits are for all teal species combined (in the aggregate)
Rails
(Sora & Virginia)
9 Sep-17 Nov 20232575Daily and possession limits are for both rail species combined (in the aggregate)
Snipe
(Wilson's)
9 Sep-24 Dec 2023824
Ducks
(but see Scaup below)
2 Dec 2023 - 30 Jan 2024 1/2 hour before sunrise to sunset618Basic daily limit is 6 ducks of any species. However, daily limit can consist of no more than the following: 4 mallards (of which no more than 2 can be hen mallards), 3 wood ducks, 2 Scaup for the first 45 days in each zone, 1 Scaup for the last 15 days in each zone, 2 redheads, 2 canvasback, 2 black ducks, 1 pintail and 1 mottled duck. Possession limit for ducks is three times the daily limit by species and sex
MergansersSame as ducks515Mergansers do not count toward your daily limit of ducks, but only 2 can be hooded mergansers. Merganser possession limit is no more than three times their daily limit, including max of 6 hooded mergansers
CootsSame as ducks1545
Scaup
(aka, Bluebills)
2 Dec 2023 - 15 Jan 2024
2/day first 45 days6FWS regulations require 45 days with 2/day bag limit, 15 days with 1/day bag limit. Will be different in each zone
16-30 Jan 20241/day last 15 days3
Canada geese
(early season)
1–15 Sep 2023215
Canada geese
(regular season)
2 Dec 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
39
Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)2 Dec 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
20Unlimited
BrantSame as light geese13
White-fronted Geese
(aka, Specklebellies)
2 Dec 2023 - 31 Jan 2024
26
Conservation Order Light Geese (Snow/Blue/Ross' Geese)1 Feb -
30 Apr 2024
1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunsetUnlimitedUnlimitedThe following apply to the Conservation Order only: 1) unplugged shotguns may be used and there is no limit to the number of shells that may be placed in a shotgun, 2) electronic calling devices may be used, 3) federal duck stamp not required, 4) Illinois duck stamp and hunting license is required
Youth waterfowl25-26 Nov 2023
1/2 hour before sunrise to sunsetSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsSame as during regular duck, goose, and coot seasonsThe following apply to the Youth season only: 1) youth hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and must have a hunting license and HIP registration/ certification unless hunting on property where they reside; 2) no stamps are required for youths under age 16; 3) federal waterfowl stamps are required for all hunters age 16 and older; 4) hunters aged 18 years and older may not hunt waterfowl and coots during the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, even if hunting with a Youth License

Licenses & Permits

Licenses & Stamps

  • See Licenses/Stamps to find what licenses and stamps you qualify for
  • Find your permits/licenses here
  • Correct, replace or reprint permits/licenses here

Permits & Lotteries

  • Use the License Finder to determine what permits you qualify for
  • Use the Directory or Hunt Planner to determine what type of permit you need for a given public hunting site
  • More details on permits can be found in the Statewide Hunting Regulations.
  • Lottery for duck/goose permits for IDNR sites:
    • First Lottery
      • Application dates: August 16-31
      • Available to: residents only
    • Second Lottery
      • Applicable dates: 1-15 September
      • Available to: unsuccessful residents from the first lottery, residents that did not apply in the first lottery, non-resident applicants
    • Third Lottery
      • Application dates: 16-28 September
      • Available to: anyone who can apply for first or second lottery
  • Use the Public Duck and Goose Hunting Area Permit Lottery Instructions​ for more information
  • Youth Waterfowl Hunts: Paper Application (print/mail): 31 Aug-1 Oct

Waterfowl Specific Regulations

Species

  • Ducks (dabblers and divers)
  • Sora & Virginia rails
  • Wilson’s snipe
  • Mergansers
  • Coots
  • Canada geese
  • Light geese (Snow, Blue, Ross’)
  • White-fronted geese (aka, specklebellies)
  • Brant

Can use

  • Shotguns
    • Cannot use any shotgun larger than 10 gauge while taking or attempting to harvest waterfowl
    • Barrel length shall not be less than 18 inches, and the overall length shall not be less than 26 inches
    • Cannot use a shotgun capable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined. Any shotgun having a capacity of more than 3 shells must be fitted with a one-piece plug that is irremovable without dismantling the shotgun or otherwise altered to render it incapable of holding more than 3 shells in the magazine and chamber combined. Note: shell limit does not apply during the Conservation Order light goose season that occurs during late-winter and spring
    • Muzzleloading rifle with non-toxic shot types described directly below can be used for all legal waterfowl, except teal
  • Ammo
    • Must use federally approved non-toxic shot for ducks, geese, mergansers and coots. Steel shot must be size T or smaller and other non-toxic shot types must be number BBB or smaller

Tom Roster’s Non-toxic shot lethality table

  • Archery
    • Same specifications as found in the deer and turkey sections on this website

Clothing requirements

  • None

Miscellaneous

  • Must maintain the head and/or one fully-feathered wing on each bird while being transported from the field to final destination
  • Spinning-wing decoys are allowed for waterfowl hunting
  • Use a Waterfowl Gift Tag if transferring harvested birds to another person

Blind Drawings & Construction

During the summer IDNR holds in-person drawings at several sites for blinds allocated from 1-3 years. Blinds are to be constructed as noted below. Hunters must be present at the drawing to claim a blind and have the following at time of drawing registration: 1) current or preceding year regular resident or non-resident Illinois hunting license (no youth, apprentice, or 5-day licenses accepted), 2) current or preceding year Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp, and 3) photo ID. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age by the date of the drawing. Most blind drawings typically occur during the following four time periods each year: 1) second to last Sunday in July, 2) last Saturday in July, 3) last Sunday in July, or 4) first Saturday in August. Drawings for 3-year blinds for the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers confluence area (MRA SFWA and Horseshoe Lake State Park) occur the first Sunday in June. Specific dates and times for drawings for each site will be publicized by IDNR through public notice on the website. Sites can also be contacted for drawing information

Below are the general blind construction rules for IDNR sites that require hunting be done by constructed blind. Note that construction time deadlines, removal and allowed materials may vary by site and region. Refer to information provided to blind builders, site-specific info or download the Administrative Rule 590 for specifics. The information provided below is general and does not cover site specific differences. Contact the site which you are interested in hunting for more details.

  • Blinds must be at least 4 feet x 8 feet, but no higher than 14 feet from the water surface at normal pool level, to the top of the shooting box, sturdy enough to withstand daily usage, and must be maintained in good condition by blind builders throughout the duck season. Blinds shall be numbered and the number shall be visible from the outside of the blinds. Blinds must be placed within 10 feet of assigned Department marked site. Boat hides are required and must have minimum dimensions of 18′ x 7.5′. Boat hides shall be sturdy enough to withstand daily use considering the conditions of the site and must be maintained in good condition throughout the season.
  • Blinds built over water must be of platform construction with the platform constructed above normal water conditions or they may be floating blinds. At some locations, river blinds may also be pull-in boat hide blinds, where hunters remain in the boat to hunt. Boat hide blinds must have a minimum size of 18′ x 7.5′, be sturdy enough to withstand daily use considering conditions of the site and be maintained in good condition throughout the season.
  • Depending on the site, blinds must be completed, including final brushing, 3 or 4 weeks in advance of opening date of regular duck season after which time the Department shall inspect all blinds and blind sites and issue Blind Registration Cards to those which pass inspection. If adverse weather or water conditions make compliance with this rule difficult the site superintendent or the District Wildlife Manager may grant extensions.
  • Sites on which blinds have not been built, as well as sites on which blinds of an unsatisfactory quality have been built, shall be reassigned to alternates selected at a drawing or by a first come-first served allocation held on a day publicly announced by the Department. All reassigned blinds must be completed, including final brushing, 7 days prior to the opening date of the duck season on sites posted as being closed to trespassing 7 days prior to regular duck season. On all other sites reassigned blinds must be completed, including final brushing, by the day before the opening day of the regular duck season.
  • Blinds must include a dog hide that is on the same level as the blind. The dog hide can either be incorporated into the blind by providing a hole at floor level that measures at least 20 inches high by 20 inches wide or by providing a separate compartment that is attached to the blind. Hides attached to the blind should have a minimum floor space that measures 2 feet by 2 feet and should be at least 2.5 feet high with 2 openings. One opening should be between the blind and the dog hide, should measure at least 20 inches by 20 inches, and should be constructed at the same level as the blind floor. The water access opening should be at least 20 inches wide and 20 inches high. Hides either within the blind or attached should have an enforced ramp to water level that is at least 15 inches wide with cleats every 12 inches. Openings in the blind must be capable of being closed when not in use.
  • At some sites, the use of any metal, with the exception of fasteners less than 12 inches in length, carpet, and plastic snow fence or mesh will be prohibited in the construction of waterfowl blinds.

Be sure to check regulations for the IDNR site(s) you intend to hunt, as some sites have more restrictive regulations on equipment, harvest reporting, etc. You can find site-specific regulations using the Directory or Hunt Planner

Aerial Surveys

Northeastern Illinois Waterfowl Aerial Surveys

West Central Illinois Waterfowl Aerial Surveys

Upper/Lower Illinois River Waterfowl Aerial Surveys

Upper/Lower Mississippi River Waterfowl Aerial Surveys

Southern Illinois Waterfowl Aerial Surveys

Management & Ecology

Harvest Reports

Wetland Management

IDNR Wetland Wildlife Management works to protect waterfowl habitat and improve public migratory waterfowl areas within the state. These efforts include land acquisition and habitat development projects, such as the development of waterfowl propagation areas. IDNR biologists and land managers provide hunting for waterfowl at dozens of public hunting areas throughout Illinois. For more information download:

Duck Stamps

Each year waterfowl hunters purchase Migratory Waterfowl Stamps, or “duck stamps” as a requirement to hunt migratory waterfowl. Authorization for a federal duck stamp came in 1934 from passage of the Migratory Bird Hunting Stamp Act, which was largely driven by waterfowl hunters’ concern over habitat loss and declining waterfowl populations. Funds from the purchase of these stamps are directed towards the purchase or lease of lands for inclusion in the National Wildlife Refuge System, providing critical breeding, migration and wintering habitat for waterfowl and a variety of other species, and recreation opportunity in many areas. With an initial cost of $1 and current cost of $25, Federal Duck Stamp funds to date have totaled over $800 million to protect more than 5.7 million acres of wildlife habitat nationwide.

Similar to the federal duck stamp, Illinois hunters initiated the Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp Fund, which was established in 1975. The stamps originally cost $5, increasing to $10 in 1991 and to $15.50 in 2011. Over the life of the fund, stamp purchases have led to over $24 million deposited in this fund, with current average sales of about 60,000 stamps annually, leading to nearly $1 million annual revenue. Physical paper Illinois stamps affixed to hunters’ licenses were discontinued in 2011 and now only appear as a line item on printed licenses.

Illinois Duck Stamp funds are divided four ways each year based on specifications in the law that established the fund (520 ILCS 5/1.29). A state Duck Stamp Committee, which meets at least twice annually, is made up of representatives from various branches within DNR and non-profit waterfowl organizations, helps guide how funds are used. One quarter of the funds are used for habitat projects within Illinois. Examples include water management infrastructure such as levees and water control structures, equipment to manage sites such as pumps or heavy equipment, and land acquisition to increase hunting opportunity or waterfowl habitat capacity. Another quarter of the annual funds is dedicated to maintenance of existing waterfowl habitat in Illinois, typically at IDNR owned or managed sites. These funds are used for repairs and replacement of infrastructure and equipment at waterfowl management sites. Floods, ice, and age all take their toll on levees, pumps, culverts, water control structures and nearly anything else used to manage for wetland habitat. Typical projects include repairs or replacement of existing infrastructure or equipment or protection of existing infrastructure used to manage waterfowl habitat and undesirable vegetation control.

The final two categories, equaling one half of annual Illinois Duck Stamp funds, are dedicated to waterfowl production on the breeding grounds. One category is dedicated toward meeting the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, while the other specifies providing habitat for ducks that migrate to the Mississippi Flyway (i.e., an administrative region that closely conforms to the boundaries of 14 states and three Canadian provinces, approximately running from Minnesota and Michigan in the north to Louisiana and Alabama in the south). Many of the ducks that visit Illinois, or are harvested by Illinois hunters, come from the traditional Prairie Pothole Region breeding grounds in Saskatchewan and Manitoba Canada and the Dakotas with Minnesota and Wisconsin also providing some ducks to Illinois. Because of the way funds originating in the U.S. can be leveraged (matched) in Canada, Illinois gets the greatest value by sending funds to non-profit organizations doing habitat conservation work in Canada. Funds are used to permanently protect, restore or establish the important wetlands and grasslands that make up the “Duck Factory” that will provide migrating ducks to hunters in Illinois and beyond well into the future.

Managing Waterfowl Populations

Waterfowl and other migratory birds are managed cooperatively among states and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), unlike many other wildlife species which are managed exclusively by states. Regulation frameworks, or “bookends”, are established by USFWS and states must select their specific regulations from within those frameworks. These include things like season dates, daily bag and possession limits, the number of zones or split seasons used, and other species specific regulations or closures. States and USFWS work together through Flyway Councils (Mississippi Flyway Council for Illinois), where waterfowl and other migratory bird specialists discuss and make recommendations for regulations, monitoring and research. Approved recommendations are sent to the USFWS Service Regulations Committee for approval or rejection, and once approved and published in the Federal Register become part of the regulations states must abide by. Other factors that contribute to waterfowl regulations are breeding population surveys and population estimates, hunter harvest determined by HIP registration, parts collection surveys and band returns, and habitat conditions in primary breeding areas. Visit the USFWS Migratory Bird Data Center here for more information.

Report a Waterfowl Band

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a website for reporting all dove and waterfowl bands. If you harvest a banded bird, visit www.reportband.gov and enter information about when and where you shot the bird. Previously, a 1-800 number was available for reporting bird bands. This number is no longer accepts band information and will direct callers to the website. All bands, even old bands that do not have the web address inscribed on them, can be reported at www.reportband.gov. You will be emailed a Certificate of Appreciation with information about when and where the bird was banded. Your cooperation on reporting band numbers gives waterfowl and dove biologists a wealth of information useful in managing the resource to provide hunters with maximum recreational opportunities while protecting waterfowl and dove populations. Learn more about the program here.

Hunter Survey

Illinois Waterfowl Hunter Survey: Annual survey of waterfowl hunters (duck, goose, and coot) conducted by the Illinois Natural History Survey to gauge hunter harvest, habitat, attitudes and opinions. Results are used to help guide regulation changes.

Additional Resources