US Fish & Wildlife Service


Date of this Version



Published by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2011) 51 pages.


Zoning is defined as the delineation of areas within a State where duck hunting seasons are set independently of each other. The purpose of zoning is to provide a more equitable distribution of duck harvest opportunity among hunters in a given State. States are allowed the option of splitting their allotted hunting days into two (or in some cases, three) segments to take advantage of species-specific peaks of abundance or to satisfy hunters in different areas who want to hunt during the period of peak waterfowl abundance in their area. The Service’s current zoning/split criteria allow States the following options:

(1) Three zones with no splits

(2) Split seasons (no more than three segments) with no zones

(3) Two zones with the option for two-way split seasons in one or both zones.

Flyway Councils have requested a revision in zoning and split season guidelines, which have remained unchanged since 1996. This environmental assessment evaluates four alternative structures for zoning and split season guidelines within which States must choose duck hunting seasons:

Alternative 1: Retain the current zoning and splits guidelines (No action)

Alternative 2: Modify the current zones and splits guidelines to allow 2 additional options (Proposed action)

Alternative 3: Eliminate restrictions on the number of zones in a State with varying sub-alternatives for the number of splits

Alternative 4: Eliminate the use of zones and splits