What Are the Most Common Waterfowl Violations?

An article from WWA’s Words From The Wardens.

This article originally appeared in Wisconsin Waterfowl Association’s August 1, 2018 eNewsletter.

By WDNR Lt.  Tyler Strelow

What are the most common waterfowl violations?

A common question to law enforcement is what type of activity are you seeing and what are the most common violations – or mistakes – waterfowl hunters make?

As a law enforcement agency, I can tell you we wardens try not to focus on the numbers. However, it is important to track what is going on in the field so we can see trends, opportunities or challenges in the waterfowl world. For example, if lead shot violations start to rise we can coordinate enforcement and education details that concentrate toxic shot regulations. If over-bagging remains an area of concern, we can spend more time focusing on education and enforcement of bag limits and associated waterfowl identification. It is just another tool we use help us address issues and be more efficient.

Let’s get back to question: Year after year it seems certain violations remain to be the most common. I have compiled a list of the top 5 we see in Wisconsin. And I have included flyway violations, too.  (Priority Violations and Revenue violations). Law enforcement continues to focus on areas that have compliance problems. Tracking citation/arrest data is a good way to focus both our education and enforcement  efforts.

I deliver a violation report for Wisconsin at the Conservation Congress Waterfowl Committee meeting yearly and at the Mississippi Flyway Council (MFC) on behalf of the flyway law enforcement technical section every August.

Citations trends overall seem to be trending downward in all areas. A MFC chart below shows the overall citation trend. This may be in part because of reduced number of hunters, rule simplification, or the fact that overall waterfowl regulations have been similar for 20+ years and hunters have a good understanding of what the laws are. (FYI the 2015 data was not available for the trend graph).

Flyway Citations – 14 states and 3 Canada provinces #s

PRIORITY VIOLATIONS – violations that directly affect the natural resources Yearly Average
Hunt before/after legal shooting hours        416
Use/possess toxic shot         285
Shoot/possess over daily limit        249
Hunt/take waterfowl during the closed season         230
Take waterfowl with the aid of bait           113
Place bait for the purpose of taking waterfowl         34
REVENUE VIOLATIONS – violations related to funding Average
Hunt/possess waterfowl w/out state hunting license         316
Hunt/possess waterfowl w/out federal MBH stamp          242
Hunt/possess waterfowl w/out state waterfowl “Stamp”        186
Hunt/possess waterfowl w/ unsigned federal MBH stamp        112
Hunt/possess waterfowl w/unsigned state “stamp”           59
HIP (Harvest Information Program) violations          37

WI Waterfowl Citation numbers

Hunt migratory game birds during the closed season/ protected birds 59
Hunt migratory game birds with gun capable of holding more than 3 shells 44
Hunt before or after hunting hours 36
Hunt w/o license or stamp 30
Possess lead shot while hunting waterfowl         26