The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is proposing changes to
waterfowl hunting zones which would mark the first adjustment to Indiana’s
traditional three-zone boundaries in more than 25 years.
The DNR’s proposal for the 2012 hunting seasons would retain three zones but
rename them North, Central and South, with the South Zone representing a
significant geographic expansion and replacement for the current Ohio River
DNR surveys show two out of three Indiana resident waterfowl hunters express
satisfaction with the current zone lines, but only one-third of those
surveyed are satisfied with season timing.
“The point of zones is to be able to better target duck seasons when ducks
are migrating,” said DNR waterfowl biologist Adam Phelps. “Changing zone
lines may enable us to better address hunter preferences by better relating
duck migration, and therefore season timing, to the geography of the state.”
The Ohio River Zone was first established in 1984 and covered parts of 13
counties along the Ohio River. The proposed South Zone boundary extends as
far north as Terre Haute and would include all or parts of 29 counties and
take in such DNR-managed properties as Fairbanks Landing, Glendale, Sugar
Ridge and Wabashiki Fish & Wildlife Areas, plus Hardy Lake and Patoka Lake.
The proposed South Zone boundary follows a line along U.S. Highway 40 from
the Illinois border to U.S. Highway 41, south to Ind. 58, and east to U.S.
Highway 50 to the Ohio border.
The proposed North Zone boundary is essentially unchanged with the exception
of moving Roush Fish & Wildlife Area into the North. The Central Zone would
be the area between the North and South zones.
Phelps said the current North Zone, which was last adjusted in 1986,
represents a geographic split by segregating the natural lakes and wetlands
part of the state into its own zone.
“But the rivers of southern Indiana have largely been relegated to Central
Zone for the past two decades,” he said. “Changing zone lines in southern
Indiana will allow us to capture another fundamental geographic split by
bunching the lower Wabash River as well as much of the White and Muscatatuck
rivers with the Ohio River in the southernmost zone.”
The new zones were derived by looking not only at geography but also at
climate patterns and, most important, waterfowl usage.
“We survey state and federal properties weekly from August through January,
and we have those data back to the mid-1980s,” Phelps said. This long-term
waterfowl migration data set was very important in helping to choose the new
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife (USFWS) allows states to propose zone line changes
every five years. The USFWS approved Indiana’s current setup of three
geographic zones—North, South and Ohio River—and two split-date segments in
Until this year, the USFWS limited changes to two hunting zones with two
split-date segments or three zones with no split dates. States now are being
allowed to adjust boundary lines without sacrificing the number of zones or
the option of split-date segments.
The detailed zone proposal and new map can be found at
DNR Fish & Wildlife is accepting public comment on the proposed changes
through April 13 by e-mail at
or by postal mail to: Duck Zone Comments, Indiana DFW, 553 E. Miller Drive.
Bloomington, IN, 47401