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Waterfowl rezoning process

Once every five years, waterfowl zone boundaries are reassessed and updated based on new federal criteria; thereafter, the public will be asked for input.

Because of their migratory nature, waterfowl species in Nebraska are managed in cooperation with neighboring states, the Central Flyway and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Regulations for waterfowl seasons set by states must fall within federal frameworks.

Once every five years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the four Flyway Councils reconsider the criteria for waterfowl zone boundaries and allow states to reassess their zones and submit modifications for approval. This process is occurring between 2024-2025.

Hunter input

Hunters will be asked for their input on current waterfowl zone boundaries in November 2024 and January 2025. This input will be reviewed and considered in NGPC staff’s proposal of new zone boundaries to be approved by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Explore Nebraska’s current waterfowl zones for duck, coot and dark goose seasons, all of which will be subject to new federal criteria and could change starting with the 2026 hunting season.

Rezoning timeline

The process to adjust zones in Nebraska occurs over a two-year period. Once finalized, NGPC staff will analyze data for new zones to incorporate in hunting season date recommendations. Download the timeline.


August to October
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Flyway Councils agree upon and approve criteria.
  • Public input period, first round.
  • Nebraska Game and Parks analyzes and implements public input, and proposes new zone boundaries (if any).


  • Public input period, second round.
  • Proposed new zone boundaries are presented to the Commission for approval.
  • Zone boundaries must be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for approval.
  • Game and Parks begins developing season date recommendations for the expected new zones by incorporating harvest, hunter participation, hunter preference and migration timing.


  • After the Fish and Wildlife Service approves new zones, NGPC will propose new season dates per zone to the Commission for approval.
  • Waterfowl hunting season begins under new zone configuration.


Hunters with a Harvest Information Program number will be notified via direct mail or email about the opportunity to provide feedback on zones once federal criteria is approved. This page will be updated with the input survey closer to November 2024. People will be asked to download maps and follow the instructions provided to submit input. Potential changes will be evaluated and additional information may be sought.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service establishes annual hunting seasons for migratory birds under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The FWS, in conjunction with all four Flyway Councils, set frameworks for opening and closing dates, daily bag and possession limits, and season length to ensure healthy waterfowl populations. States then select their hunting seasons within those parameters.

Although the number of waterfowl hunting zones a state has can determine the number of splits allowed under federal frameworks, the waterfowl re-zoning process and the process by which NGPC staff develop season date recommendations are two distinct and separate processes. Waterfowl zones can only be altered every five years, while season dates are reviewed and proposed on an annual basis by incorporating harvest, hunter participation, hunter preference and migration timing.

Learn more about what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes into account and how they make decisions about waterfowl hunting seasons and limits.

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