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Migratory Bird Hunters get “HIP”

August 04, 2004

Anyone who hunts migratory birds this season--not just ducks and geese, but doves, woodcock or other migratory birds--must be HIP-certified.  “HIP” stands for Harvest Information Program, an annual program in which hunters provide information that helps biologists manage North America’s incredible migratory gamebird populations. 

HIP is based on a voluntary survey of selected migratory bird hunters in the United States. The state wildlife agencies collect the name, address, and some additional information from each migratory bird hunter in their states, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service randomly selects a sample of those hunters and asks them to provide information on the kind and number of migratory birds they harvest during the hunting season. Those hunters’ reports are then used to develop reliable estimates of the total harvest of all migratory birds throughout the country.  In this way, hunters serve as biologists’ eyes and ears in the field, helping to improve wildlife conservation efforts and protecting the hunting heritage.

To comply with HIP, hunters must identify themselves as migratory bird hunters and provide their name, address, and date of birth when they purchase their licenses--something most hunters do already. They must do this in every state in which they hunt migratory birds.  Hunters also will be asked to voluntarily answer several questions about their hunting experience during last year's season. Answers to these questions are not used to compile harvest estimates, but are simply used to identify what types of birds they usually hunt. This allows the Service to mail its surveys to the appropriate hunters. For example, most surveys about dove harvest are sent to hunters who usually hunt doves, while most waterfowl harvest surveys are sent to hunters who usually hunt ducks/geese.

Different states have different methods for collecting the information and signing up hunters into the HIP program, but most states rely on hunting license vendors to do it.  Therefore, migratory bird hunters need to make sure that their vendors get them signed up for HIP when they purchase their licenses.  When a hunter is properly signed up, the state wildlife agency will provide a card, stamp, or other proof of participation.  Hunters must carry proof of their participation in HIP wherever they hunt migratory birds. Hunters who hunt migratory birds without proof of participation in the HIP program can be ticketed or fined.

Some states charge a small fee for HIP certification to cover administrative costs, but the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service receives no income from this program.  In Alabama HIP certification is free. Hunters receive a stamp to place on their license as proof of their participation. Alabama hunters can now sign up online through the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources web site at www.outdooralabama.com. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will use names and addresses provided by hunters for survey purposes only, and all contact information will be destroyed immediately after processing each year. Anyone required to have a license is required to have HIP certification.

Hunters are required to be HIP certified if they hunt any of the following migratory bird species: ducks, coots, geese, brant, swans, doves, woodcock, rails, snipe, sandhill cranes, band-tailed pigeons, or gallinules.

For more information, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Harvest Information Program web site at www.fws.gov.

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