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July 18, 2008

Early-season migratory bird seasons approved by Natural Resources Board

The S.C. Natural Resources Board recently approved migratory bird hunting seasons for mourning doves, marsh hens (rails), woodcock, snipe, moorhens, purple gallinules, teal and an early season for Canada geese.

The Natural Resources Board set the 2008-2009 hunting seasons for these migratory game birds at its July 16 meeting in Columbia. The seasons must still meet approval by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and be published in the Federal Register in order to become final.

For more information, write to Early-Season Migratory Birds, DNR, PO Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202, call (803) 734-3886 in Columbia.

The 2008-2009 mourning dove season in South Carolina is Sept. 1-6 (noon until sunset); Sept. 7-Oct. 4; Nov. 22-29; and Dec. 19-Jan. 15. Legal hunting hours for mourning dove season, except for Sept. 1-6, are from 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. For the 2008-09 mourning dove season, the daily bag limit is increased from 12 birds per day to 15 birds per day. This change is based on extensive analysis and recommendations from dove biologists from eastern states striving for a consistent mourning dove season and bag limit throughout the Eastern Management Unit (EMU). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concurred with the increased bag limit and it is available for the 2008-09 dove season.  Prior to this change, states in the EMU had an option of a 12-bird bag limit with a 70-day season or a 15-bird bag limit with a 60-day season. Some states in the EMU had previously selected the 15 bird/60 day option, and others (including SC) had selected 12 birds/70 days. 

Hunters are reminded that mourning dove season will open this year on Monday, Sept. 1. Dove season traditionally opens on either the first Saturday in September or on Labor Day, whichever comes first. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, seasons for migratory game birds cannot begin before Sept. 1.

An early season for Canada geese will be Sept. 1-30. This season is statewide. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset. The daily bag limit for Canada geese during this early season is 15 birds.

The two-part season for marsh hens—including king, clapper, sora and Virginia rails—and common moorhens and purple gallinules will be from Sept. 15-Sept. 20 and Oct. 13-Dec. 15. The daily bag limit for king and/or clapper rails is 15 birds per hunter and moorhens and/or purple gallinules is 15 birds per hunter. The daily limit for sora and/or Virginia rails is 25 birds per hunter. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.

The 2009 South Carolina season for woodcock will run Jan. 2-31. Three birds per hunter is the daily limit for woodcock. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.

The 2008-2009 season for common snipe, also called Wilson's snipe, will be Nov. 14-Feb. 28. The daily bag limit is eight birds. Shooting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until sunset.

The South Carolina early season for teal will be Sept. 19-27. The daily bag limit is four birds. Shooting hours are sunrise until sunset (not 30 minutes before sunrise, as with other migratory bird seasons).

South Carolina migratory bird hunters age 16 and older must have a state hunting license and a free migratory bird permit. Additionally, participants in the September Canada Goose season and the early teal season must have the Federal Waterfowl Stamp and SC Waterfowl Permit.  Completion of an approved hunter education course is mandatory for resident and nonresident South Carolina hunters born after June 30, 1979, to purchase a license, and voluntary for older and younger hunters.  

DNR protects and manages South Carolina's natural resources by making wise and balanced decisions for the benefit of the state's natural resources and its people.

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