The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows states to change the boundaries to their duck zones every five years. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission couples changes with dark (Canada) goose unit boundaries at the same time.
This is that year for consideration of potential changes to duck zone and goose unit boundaries, and Game and Parks is seeking input from waterfowl hunters. Any changes to boundaries will go into effect starting with the 2021-2022 hunting season.
Waterfowl hunters can find more information and provide input by visiting OutdoorNebraska.gov/duckgoosezones. Download maps and follow instructions provided to submit input. Game and Parks will accept input until Nov. 30. Potential changes will be evaluated, and additional input will be sought after this initial round.
Nebraska was one of the first states to use zones in the early 1980s. We are one of those unique states where zones are important given where our wetland and riverine habitats occur and the different ducks that use them.
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Duck zones and goose units provide a chance to better coordinate duck and goose migration patterns to those habitats. They also incorporate hunter preferences with hunting season dates for different areas of the state.
Zones and units may complicate things, but when you have habitats that may freeze up in mid-November in close proximity to those that stay open all winter, there are not enough days in the duck or goose season to accommodate all season date preferences or match duck and goose migration chronology. I don’t think we could live without zones in Nebraska.
Hunters who provide input on potential changes should attempt to make them along roads or other easily identifiable boundaries. They also should be specific as possible about changes and keep the changes as small as possible to not affect other hunters.
It is equally important for hunters to provide input even if they are satisfied with the current duck zone or goose unit boundaries. That is as important as the feedback you would provide if you wanted to see changes made.
We will try to accommodate any changes to the large majority of the hunters in a particular area. I’ve seen in the past where hunters take for granted there won’t be a change, and then someone not far from them proposes one.
Input on potential boundary changes benefits hunters in this great waterfowl hunting state.
Mark Vrtiska is the waterfowl program manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission stationed in Lincoln.