Duck hunters must choose between two daily bag limits when they register for their Harvest Information Program number this year.
Nebraska and South Dakota are entering a new “two-tier” program starting with the 2021-2022 regular duck season.
Tier I is the current traditional six-duck bag limit with species and sex restrictions. Tier II is a three-duck bag limit with no species or sex restrictions.
HIP registration begins Aug. 1. When hunters go to register, they will be asked whether they plan to hunt ducks. If so, they will be prompted to select a tier. Hunters will be bound to that bag limit for the entire season.
The regulations will not apply to goose limits or during the early teal season, which have their own bag limits.
All hunters age 16 and older, including residents, nonresidents, lifetime permit holders, veterans and senior permit holders, are required to register for HIP if they plan to hunt migratory game birds in Nebraska between Sept. 1, 2021, and July 31, 2022.
Residents under the age of 16 are exempt from the HIP requirement if they choose the Tier I bag limit, but must register for HIP if selecting Tier II. All nonresidents under the age of 16 must register for HIP regardless of the tier they select.
Hunters who choose the Tier II option will be provided a journal, where they will record information on hunting activity and harvest. The journal will be submitted to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission at the end of the hunting season. In addition, postage-paid envelopes will be provided to each hunter with the expectation that a wing from each duck harvested also will be sent. This process will be similar to ongoing federal collection efforts to estimate harvest. Duck harvest and species composition will then be compared to hunters using the Tier I option.
In a survey, duck identification skills were identified as a factor preventing potential hunters from taking up the sport. The new two-tier regulations are an effort to remove the barrier associated with identification skills.
Starting Aug. 1, hunters can register for HIP at OutdoorNebraska.gov/HIP. Registered hunters are assigned a number that they must carry with them while hunting.
HIP, which is required by federal regulation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, helps wildlife managers estimate the number of migratory game birds harvested each year. Migratory birds include doves, ducks, geese, snipe, rail, coots and woodcock.
The two-tier program will continue for the next four seasons, and then be reexamined to determine whether it affected waterfowl hunter numbers and duck populations.
For more information on the two-tier system, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/DuckTiers.