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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 29, 2011 
CONTACTS:
Chris McCloud 
217-785-0075 
Stacey Solano 
217-558-0994 
USFWS Approves IDNR Waterfowl Zones and Dates 
Illinois to use new option to implement fourth zone for waterfowl hunting 
Audio:  IDNR Director Marc Miller discusses the new four-zone configuration for waterfowl hunting in Illinois

http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/Podcasts/OIAugDirector2011.mp3


SPRINGFIELD, IL – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) this week approved for publication in the Federal Register new rules allowing states to add a fourth duck hunting zone or to use three zones with split hunting seasons for the regular duck hunting season.  This decision allows the  Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to proceed with its proposal for adding a fourth waterfowl hunting zone in the state.  

“We are delighted that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has endorsed our long-sought option of adding a fourth zone in Illinois for waterfowl hunting,” said IDNR Director Marc Miller.  “We are grateful for the support of hunters and outdoors organizations throughout the state – the advocacy of Governor Pat Quinn, who pressed our case with federal officials – and for the strong case made by waterfowl professionals from Illinois and across the country.  The Service has OK’d a sensible and well-reasoned means by which we can provide hunters with good opportunity to enjoy better waterfowl hunting for years to come.”

The recommendations approved include 60-day duck seasons in each of the state’s newly-drawn four waterfowl hunting zones, along with Canada goose hunting seasons of 85 days in the North and Central zones and 66 days in the South Central and South zones for the 2011-12 waterfowl season. 

The Illinois seasons for this year are based on a new five-year plan for waterfowl hunting season dates through the 2015 season.  If season lengths are changed by federal rule for any species during the 2012-2015 seasons, adjustments will be made by the IDNR.  For 2011-12, Illinois will open the regular duck, Canada goose, and snow goose seasons on Oct. 15 in the North Zone, Oct. 22 in the Central Zone, Nov. 12 in the South Central Zone, and Nov. 24 in the South Zone.  White-fronted goose seasons open with the duck seasons in the South Central and South zones but have delayed openers in the North and Central zones.


The IDNR five-year plan for waterfowl seasons includes:

• Four waterfowl zones designated as North, Central, South Central and South zones;
• In a revision to the original IDNR zone line proposal, Illinois will retain the existing zone line between the North and Central zones in northeast Illinois for duck hunting, while a new zone line along Interstate 80 will separate the North and Central zones for goose hunting in portions of Cook, Will and Grundy counties (see detailed descriptions below).  This change was made at the request of Canada goose hunters in the area who believe they will have more opportunity to hunt field feeding geese from nearby cooling lakes and rivers in January than during October and November.  Hunters will need to be aware that duck and goose season will not always be open at the same time in this area of the state.  This area will use North Zone duck season dates and Central Zone goose season dates.
• No change in the zone line between the North and Central zones in western Illinois;
• Use of a line similar to the pre-2006 zone line between the Central and South (South Central) zones in southwest Illinois;
• New zone lines to make provisions for the South Central and South zones;
• 60-day ducks seasons in all zones
• 85-day Canada goose seasons in the North and Central Zones and 66-day Canada goose seasons in the South Central and South Zones


The IDNR 2011-2015 season dates and descriptions of the new waterfowl zone lines are outlined below.  To view maps of the new zone lines, check the IDNR website at

http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/Pages/MapsApprovedWaterfowlZoneLines.aspx


Illinois Waterfowl Regular Season Dates – 2011-2015



              Youth Hunt         Duck            Canada Goose
North Zone   

2011    Oct. 8-9       Oct. 15 – Dec. 13    Oct. 15 – Jan. 7

2012    Oct. 13-14    Oct. 20 – Dec. 18    Oct. 20 – Jan. 12

2013    Oct. 12-13    Oct. 19 – Dec. 17    Oct. 19 – Jan. 11

2014    Oct. 11-12    Oct. 18 – Dec. 16    Oct. 18 – Jan. 10

2015    Oct. 10-11    Oct. 17 – Dec. 15    Oct. 17 – Jan. 9


Central Zone

2011    Oct. 15-16    Oct. 22 – Dec. 20   Oct. 22 – Nov. 6 and Nov. 24 – Jan. 31

2012    Oct. 20-21    Oct. 27 – Dec. 25   Oct. 27 – Nov. 11 and Nov. 24 – Jan. 31

2013    Oct. 19-20    Oct. 26 – Dec. 24   Oct. 26 – Nov. 10 and Nov. 24 – Jan. 31

2014    Oct. 18-19    Oct. 25 – Dec. 23   Oct. 25 – Nov. 9 and Nov. 24 – Jan. 31

2015    Oct. 17-18    Oct. 24 – Dec. 22   Oct. 24 – Nov. 8 and Nov. 24 – Jan. 31


South Central Zone

2011    Nov. 5-6    Nov. 12 – Jan. 10   Nov. 12 – Nov. 27 and Dec. 13 – Jan. 31

2012    Nov. 3-4    Nov. 10 – Jan. 8   Nov. 10 – Nov. 15 and Dec. 3 – Jan. 31

2013    Nov. 2-3    Nov. 9 – Jan. 7   Nov. 9 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 3 – Jan. 31

2014    Nov. 1-2    Nov. 8 – Jan. 6   Nov. 8 – Nov. 13 and Dec. 3 – Jan. 31

2015    Nov. 7-8    Nov. 14 – Jan. 12   Nov. 14 – Nov. 19 and Dec. 3 – Jan. 31

                                                              
South Zone

2011    Nov. 12-13    Nov. 24 – Jan. 22    Nov. 24 – Nov. 27 and Dec. 1 - Jan. 31

2012    Nov. 10-11    Nov. 22 – Jan. 20    Nov. 22 – Nov. 25 and Dec. 1 - Jan. 31

2013    Nov. 16-17    Nov. 28 – Jan. 26    Nov. 28 – Jan. 31

2014    Nov. 15-16    Nov. 27 – Jan. 25    Nov. 27 – Jan. 31

2015    Nov. 14-15    Nov. 26 – Jan. 24    Nov. 26 – Nov. 29 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 31



Illinois 2011-2012 Snow Goose and White-Fronted Goose Season Dates


North Zone

Snow Geese
Regular Season:  Oct. 15 - Jan. 7
Conservation Order:  Jan. 8 - March 31

White-fronted Geese: Oct. 26 – Jan. 7


Central Zone

Snow Geese
Regular Season:  Oct. 22 - Jan. 31
Conservation Order:  Feb. 1 - March 31

White-fronted Geese:  Nov. 19 – Jan. 31


South Central Zone

Snow Geese
Regular Season: Nov. 12- Jan. 31
Conservation Order: Feb. 1 - March 31

White-fronted Geese:  Nov. 12 - Nov. 27 and Dec. 5 - Jan. 31


South Zone

Snow Geese
Regular Season:  Nov. 24 – Jan. 31
Conservation Order:  Feb. 1 – March 31

White-fronted Geese:  Nov. 24 – Jan. 31



2011-2015 Illinois Waterfowl Zone Lines
(Detailed maps available on IDNR website)


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 zone as for ducks.

South Central Goose Zone:  Same zone as for ducks.


The new waterfowl zone maps are available on the IDNR website at:

http://www.dnr.illinois.gov/hunting/waterfowl/Pages/MapsApprovedWaterfowlZoneLines.aspx

Implementation of the new Illinois waterfowl zones will occur with the 2011-12 regular waterfowl seasons, with previously existing zones in use for the September 2011 early Canada goose hunting season.

The September 2011 early Canada goose season is Sept. 1-15 with a daily limit of five (5) and a possession limit of 10 geese in the North and Central zones and a daily limit of two (2) and a possession limit of four (4) geese in the South Zone.

Illinois’ 16-day 2011 statewide teal hunting season is Sept. 3-18 with a daily limit of four (4) and a possession limit of eight (8) teal.

For a complete report on 2011 waterfowl season prospects in Illinois, see details below.



OVERVIEW AND OUTLOOK FOR 2011

Illinois duck hunters experienced a well below average hunting season last year harvesting the fewest ducks since 2002.  For the fourth consecutive year, floodwaters negatively impacted waterfowl habitat in the Illinois River valley (IRV) and other areas of the state.  According to the Illinois State Water Survey, June 2010 was the second wettest on record.  Water levels of the Illinois River did not recede until mid-August and many waterfowl areas were not dewatered to promote moist-soil vegetation.  Subsequent flooding in early September likely damaged waterfowl food plants in the unprotected portion of the floodplain.  Summer flooding reduced available food in many other areas of Illinois as well.  The North Zone lost about two weeks of duck hunting opportunity to early freeze up while portions of the Central Zone lost a month or more to early ice conditions.  Areas at the north end of the South Zone froze up after only 10 days into the season causing some of the largest public duck hunting areas in the state to lose up to 50 days of duck hunting opportunity.  In general duck migration was late and when it did occur, freeze up came shortly thereafter in the Central and South zones. 

Conditions on the duck breeding grounds were excellent this year. There were 8.1 million ponds in prairie Canada and northern U.S. breeding areas. This was 22% more than last year and 62% above the long term average of 5.0 million ponds.  This was the second highest number of ponds ever recorded.  This is the 15th year in a row we have been offered a liberal 60-day duck season. We anticipate an excellent fall duck flight due to unprecedented continuing good water levels over a large portion of the breeding grounds.  MVP Canada goose breeding numbers are down from last year due to poor production during the previous two springs. Breeding conditions were better than last year and production is expected to be average.  However, giant Canada geese are doing well in our flyway and should provide good hunting.



DUCKS

Duck Populations - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (Service) annual survey of key nesting areas indicated a record 46 million breeding ducks, 11% higher than last year and 35% above the 1955-2010 long-term average.  This is the highest breeding population since 1955.  Excellent water levels on the breeding grounds contributed to this record population.

Mallards - The mid-continent mallard fall flight forecast (minus Alaska mallards) is 11.9 million, which is 1.6 million more than last year.   The fall flight index predicts two million young mallards will fly south this year compared to 1.7 million last year.  Young mallards are generally twice as vulnerable to hunting as adults.  This should be the best fall flight in 10 years.

Pintails -   The northern pintail population of 4.4 million was 26% higher than last year.  Pintails have finally reached their long-term average and this was the highest breeding population since 1980.   The daily bag limit will remain at two (2).

Canvasbacks and Redheads - The canvasback population was slightly higher than last year at 700,000 and was 21% above the long-term average.  This was the second highest canvasback population since 2000.  The redhead breeding population of 1.4 million was a record; the highest since 1955. 

 Scaup - Scaup population estimates of 4.3 million were similar to last year but are 15% below the long-term average.  This was the highest population since 1999.

Wood Ducks – In 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) approved increasing the daily bag limit for wood ducks in the Atlantic, Central, and Mississippi Flyways from two (2) to three (3) during the regular season.  The FWS and the Atlantic, Central, and Mississippi Flyway Council’s are assessing the effect of the three-bird bag limit on wood duck populations and developing a wood duck harvest strategy.  The bag limit will remain at three (3) this season.

Teal – The green-winged teal breeding population is 2.9 million which is 47% above the long-term average and is the 5th highest recorded since estimates began in 1955. Blue-winged teal breeding populations were at an all time record of 8.9 million which is 41% higher than last year and 91% above the long-term average. The old record of 7.4 million was set in 2000.
 
2010 Duck Harvest - The preliminary state duck harvest estimate of 354,859 was 11% lower than in 2009 (399,555) and was 20% lower than the previous five-year average.  The North Zone harvested an estimated 62,241 ducks while the Central took 183,849 and the South took 103,859. Most of the decline in harvest occurred in the South Zone where harvest was 28% lower than 2009.  This was likely due to the very early freeze up that occurred.  On average, duck hunters spent 11.5 days afield to harvest eight (8) ducks per hunter for the season.  This annual harvest per hunter was 11% below the previous five-year average of nine (9) ducks per hunter.  Federal estimates indicated that the average seasonal duck harvest for Illinois hunters was higher than eight of nine states in the Flyway from Kentucky to the north.  Of these nine states, only Missouri hunters took more ducks per hunter.  The duck harvest per hunter per day last season was 0.71, which is 11% higher than last year.   Wood duck harvest was 39,611, or 5% less than in 2009.  Harvest of teal during the 2010 September season was 20,127, or 5% higher than 2009.  The North Zone harvested an estimated 3,089 teal while the Central Zone took 11,198 and the South Zone took 5,599.  

2011 Duck Hunting Outlook - The wetland habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl in the U.S. and Canada is the second best in history.  The estimate of May ponds for Prairie Canada was 4.9 million compared to 3.7 million last year.  This was 31% better than last year and 43% above the long-term average.  Ponds in the U.S. were at 3.2 million which was similar to last year and 102% above the long-term average.  There should be a record number of ducks in the fall flight this year.  Abundant moisture and delayed farming operations benefitted early nesting ducks and the extremely high breeding populations combined with some of the best habitat conditions on record should contribute to an excellent year of reproduction and a great fall flight of ducks. Although continental duck populations are in good shape, hunters should be aware that local food, water and weather can influence individual success more than the total number of ducks coming down the flyway.  Illinois has had an unusually wet spring and summer again.  Many areas along the Illinois River and reservoirs such as Lake Shelbyville, Carlyle Lake, and Rend Lake may not get the high water off of shallow areas in time for crops or moist-soil plants to produce good food conditions for ducks.  If the weather cooperates and allows seed production for the rest of the summer and early fall, these areas may be in better shape.  At the time of this printing it appears that we are in much better shape than last year but still below average. But hunters need to watch local flooding conditions to get an idea of where food may or may not be plentiful enough to attract ducks this fall.

2011 Duck Season Timing and Zone Lines – When deciding on season dates, the IDNR examines the following factors.  Each year we survey approximately 5,000 waterfowl hunters (around 10% of all our hunters) to gather information about the previous season’s duck harvest and get hunters opinions on a variety of factors regarding season timing, bag limits, etc.  In addition, we conduct a variety of aerial duck surveys on a weekly or bi-weekly basis over major duck concentration areas throughout the state.  This information is tabulated to determine which 60-day period in each zone holds the most ducks with the assumption that hunters would want their season open during the time when the most ducks are available to hunt.  We also use climatic information to determine the average date that most water bodies in each zone will freeze up each fall/winter to determine when it is likely that hunting opportunity will be mostly eliminated for some hunters.  We also look at harvest data to determine when and where ducks have been taken during previous seasons.

Because 2011 is the year when states are allowed to change duck zone lines for the next five years, the IDNR also conducted five public open houses in June 2011 at which almost 500 hunters attended.  These open houses were conducted to gather more localized information from hunters regarding proposed duck season dates and zone lines for the next five years.  We also provided an email address at DNR.ducktalk where hunters could send in their opinions regarding season dates and zone lines.  Over 336 comments were received from DNR.ducktalk.

Once we determine which time periods will generally maximize duck numbers via the aerial duck survey data, the most important factor used to set duck season dates is hunter preference.  No matter what dates are selected, some hunters will not be perfectly happy; but as long as dates are used that fall into the range of best dates determined from aerial surveys most hunters should get reasonable opportunities within a 60-day season. Hunters hunt in a variety of habitats ranging from very shallow water that freezes up early to cooling lakes and large rivers that may never freeze or in fields that might attract mallards all winter in some areas.  Thus, hunter preference varies not only by geography (northern hunters generally prefer earlier seasons than southern hunters) but also largely by the habitats being hunted. 

Preliminary results of the 2010 Illinois Waterfowl Hunter Survey (IWHS) indicated that 25% of North Zone hunters preferred an opening date of Oct. 15 while 15% preferred Oct. 22, 15% preferred Oct. 29 and 13% preferred Oct. 8. 

An analysis of aerial surveys conducted annually on the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers since 1948 indicated that this portion of the Central Zone would hold similar numbers of ducks for the 60 days after a starting date that is set any time between Oct. 16 and Nov. 6.  Preliminary results from the 2010 IWHS indicated that 27% of Central Zone duck hunters prefer an opening date of Oct. 29 while 21% preferred Oct. 22.  Over 43% of Central Zone duck hunters prefer an opening date of Oct. 22 or earlier while 31% want an opening date of Nov. 5 or later.  A number of waterfowl hunters that hunt public shallow water areas near the Mississippi River wanted an Oct. 22 opener.  Many public waterfowl hunting areas in the Central Zone near the Illinois River also freeze up so early that an Oct. 29th opener may result in lost opportunity on several of these in late December.  The earlier opener will also offer a lot more opportunities to hunt early migrants such as wood ducks and teal. 

The analysis of aerial duck survey data for the main duck concentration areas in the new South Central Zone (Carlyle Lake, Keck’s Marsh and Rend Lake combined) indicated that a season that starts any time between Oct. 26 and Nov. 18 and runs for the next 60 days would result in essentially the same number of duck use days for the new South Central Zone.  At the June public waterfowl open houses 85 hunters who hunt in this area preferred the dates proposed for the new South Central Zone (Nov. 12 opener) while only seven preferred earlier dates and eight wanted later dates. 

The analysis of aerial duck survey data for the major duck concentration areas in the new South Zone (Crab Orchard Lake, Cache River, Union County Refuge and Horseshoe Lake combined) indicated that a season that starts any time between Nov. 11 and Dec. 4 and runs for the next 60 days would result in essentially the same number of duck use days for the South Zone.  At the June public waterfowl open houses 33 hunters who hunt in this area preferred the proposed dates for the South Zone while 10 preferred South-Central dates.  A Thanksgiving opener is the latest possible dates allowed by federal rules for 2013 and 2014.  We decided to use Thanksgiving as the opener for the next five years in the South Zone.  This will be better for public areas such as Union County, Horseshoe Lake and Cache River that might freeze up in late January.  During the past couple of years there was considerable freeze up resulting in lost hunting opportunity in mid- to late-January in these areas.  In addition, the earlier opener will offer more opportunities to hunt early migrants such as wood ducks and teal. 

 
CANADA GEESE

2011 Spring Survey Results – Spring aerial surveys found 269,840 breeding Mississippi Valley Population (MVP) Canada geese, a decrease of almost 70,000 from 2010.  This was about 25% below average.  There were only 300,208 total geese which are almost 60,000 less than last year.  The reduced total flock size is not surprising considering the poor productivity in 2009 and 2010.  An average spring in 2011 resulted in average snowmelt and ice breakup during breeding season over most of Hudson Bay Lowlands in Ontario.  Biologists found an average breeding effort and much lower levels of nest depredation than in the previous two years.  Hunting for MVP geese should be better than last year due to improved production of young geese.  The MVP harvest experiment is in its last year of the five-year experiment and the plan calls for no change in regulations unless the breeding population falls below 225,000.  Biologists will carefully monitor breeding populations, harvest rates and survival models for MVP geese to make sure the migratory population is protected. 

The 2011 giant Canada goose survey in Illinois produced a population estimate of 104,900 (compared to 107,850 in 2010 and 133,550 in 2009).  The 2011 estimate for Mississippi Flyway Giant Population (MFGP) Canada geese was a record 1.63 million birds and this estimate is about 2% higher than the 2010 estimate.  Variable goose abundance and nesting conditions across the Flyway make it difficult to generalize about MFGP Canada goose fall abundance; however, Canada geese remain relatively abundant across the flyway and hunters may not perceive significant changes in abundance compared to 2010.

2010 Canada Goose Harvest – The preliminary state Canada goose harvest estimate during the regular season of 99,422 was much lower than the previous three years which averaged 142,300.  North Zone hunters took 29,472 Canada geese compared to 48,306 in the Central Zone and 19,433 in the South Zone. The Central Zone experienced the largest decline in harvest from 2009 with over 25,000 fewer birds taken.

Based on band returns, MVP Canada geese comprise about 52 percent of the Illinois harvest during the regular waterfowl season.  Giant Canada geese comprise about 44 percent (21 percent from Illinois, with the remainder from other Mississippi Flyway states and provinces, primarily Wisconsin [9%] and Minnesota [8%]). Eastern Prairie Population Canada Geese (EPP) which nests in northern Manitoba comprise 4% of Illinois’ goose harvest and cackling geese comprise less than one percent.

During the September season hunters took an estimated 17,115 Canada geese compared to 16,212 in 2009.  Harvest by zone in September was 7,967 North Zone, 7,859 in the Central Zone and 1,289 in the South Zone. 


2011 Canada Goose Season Dates
 
North Zone:  The 2010-11 season was Oct. 16 - Jan. 8.  Preliminary results from the 2010 IWHS indicated that 68% of North Zone Canada goose hunters felt that these dates were about right, while 18% thought they were too early and 8% thought they were too late.  This year’s season is only one day earlier than last year.  In Cook, Will and Grundy counties a number of goose hunters asked for a later goose season in the area south of I-80 because many geese feed in this area in January from the nearby big rivers and cooling lakes.  Therefore, this portion of the north duck zone has been placed in the Central goose zone to allow the season to end Jan. 31 instead of Jan. 7.  Goose season will not be open during the first week of the North Zone duck season in this area in order to accomplish this later season.

Central Zone: The 2010-11 Canada goose season dates were Oct. 30 - Nov. 14 and Nov. 24 - Jan. 31. Preliminary results of the 2010 IWHS indicated that 78% of Central Zone goose hunters felt that these dates were about right, while 13% thought they were too early and 6% said they were too late. 

South Central Zone: Canada goose season opens with duck season for 16 days and then closes for 15 days to reopen late enough to reach Jan. 31 within the 66 days allowed by federal rule for this zone.  This allows the season to be open during the Thanksgiving Day, four-day holiday weekend which is a very popular time for adults and youths who are out of school to hunt.

South Zone:  Canada goose season opens with duck season for four days to coincide with the Thanksgiving Day weekend and then closes for three weekdays.  It reopens on December 1 to be able to run through the end of January within the 66 days allowed in this zone by federal rules. 

SNOW GEESE

During the 2011 Midwinter Survey, biologists counted a record 3,175,200 light geese, 19% more than in 2010.  Overall, information suggests an average fall flight of MCP snow geese containing an average proportion of young.  An estimated 65,987 snow geese were harvested during the 2010 Conservation Order snow goose season in Illinois, a 23% decrease over 2009.  The Central Zone accounted for 51% of total days hunted, and 29% of total harvest.  Statewide, 68% of the harvest occurred during February.

WHITE-FRONTED GEESE

During the fall 2010 survey in Saskatchewan and Alberta, biologists counted 709,800583,200 Mid-continent Population (MCP) white-fronted geese (a.k.a. “specs”), 127,000 more than during the previous survey.  This was 22% above last year but the three-year average declined 3% and the three-year average is what is used to determine the hunting regulations.  Therefore the white-fronted season will remain moderate with a maximum of 74 days for states that choose a bag limit of two (2).  The new white-fronted goose management plan added two days to the season for 2011 to allow states to add another weekend during split seasons.