Maine's Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP)

BE HIP! Help us plan the future - for waterfowl and for you!

If you or anyone in Maine (except license-exempt landowners and complimentary license holders) plan to hunt woodcock, ducks, geese, snipe, rails, or coots, you are required to indicate on your license/license application your intention of doing so.

What is HIP?

The Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) is a method by which your state wildlife agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) are developing more reliable estimates of the number of all migratory birds harvested throughout the country. These estimates give biologists the information they need to make sound decisions concerning hunting seasons, bag limits, and population management.

At the time you purchase your license, there will be a special place on your license/license application for you to indicate whether or not you plan to hunt any migratory game birds. If you don't indicate your intentions towards these species, and later decide to hunt them without making your new intentions known, you will do so in violation of law. The information obtained from this activity will be used by the Service in the Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP).

Using this information, the Service will create a database of migratory bird hunters to whom they can send hunter record cards and other survey-type information. The Service will then compile and analyze data and send reports back to the states. Lists of survey cooperators will be destroyed following the survey. Information from the survey will enable the Service and states to more accurately determine the status of our migratory bird resources and ensure future opportunities to hunt these birds.

Don't we already have migratory bird surveys?

The Service has conducted annual waterfowl harvest surveys since 1952, and many states have long histories of conducting harvest surveys. These surveys provide some of the information currently used to set waterfowl hunting regulations. Although this information has been very useful, there are problems with the techniques which must be corrected to improve the scope and quality of the information.

Previous federal waterfowl surveys were based on a sample of hunters who bought the federal duck stamp. In addition to questions about the harvest of ducks, geese, and coots, the survey also included questions about non-waterfowl migratory birds. However, there are about two million people who hunt only non-waterfowl species such as doves and woodcock. Because they are not required to buy federal duck stamps, these hunters were never included in the federal harvest survey. Information from the waterfowl harvest survey has been useful and adequate in the past, but we need to improve on it to meet the management challenges of the next century. As the threat to and concern for migratory bird populations continue to mount, it is essential to gather the best information possible about the factors affecting these populations. It is in the hunter's best interest to have wildlife management decisions based on scientific evidence, not on opinions, philosophies, or politics. The Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program, through the cooperation of hunters, will provide wildlife biologists with the facts they need to ensure that our migratory bird resources--and hunting tradition--will be around for future generations to enjoy.

Credits: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Harvest Information Program (HIP)