Since the late 19th century, hunters concerned about the future of wildlife and the outdoor tradition have made countless contributions to the conservation of the nation's wildlife resources. Today, millions of Americans deepen their appreciation and understanding of the land and its wildlife through hunting. Hunting organizations contribute millions of dollars and countless hours of labor to various conservation causes each year.
The Service recognizes that in many cases, hunting is an important tool for wildlife management. Hunting gives resource managers a valuable tool to control populations of some species that might otherwise exceed the carrying capacity of their habitat and threaten the well-being of other wildlife species, and in some instances, that of human health and safety.
Under Federal law established by international treaties with Canada, Mexico and other countries with whom we share migratory birds, the Service has ultimate responsibility for regulating migratory bird hunting nationwide. Through a regulatory process that begins each year in January and includes public consultation, the Service establishes the frameworks that govern all migratory bird hunting in the United States. Within the boundaries established by those frameworks, state wildlife agencies have the flexibility to determine season length, bag limits, and areas for migratory game bird hunting.
Each state has primary responsibility and authority over the hunting of wildlife that resides within state boundaries. State wildlife agencies that sell hunting licences are the best source of information regarding hunting seasons, areas open/closed to hunting, etc. (Hunting of migratory birds such as ducks and geese is managed cooperatively by state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service). Migratory waterfowl hunters must possess both a state hunting license and a Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp (Duck Stamp), and each hunter needs a Harvest Information Program (HIP) number for each state in which they hunt migratory birds.