Spring and Summer Subsistence Waterfowl Hunting

Northwest Arctic Region

This is a brief summary of some of the key regulations for spring/summer subsistence bird hunting in the Northwest Arctic region. Please consult the full regulations on the Alaska Migratory Bird Co-Management Council website or call our office if you have questions or if you hunt in another area.

Migratory bird hunting in the fall (beginning September 1) is governed by a different set of regulations. Please check with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game for seasons, bag limits and other rules.

Who Can Hunt?

  • All permanent residents of Northwest Alaska - both Native and non-Native - who have lived in the area for the previous 12 months can harvest migratory birds and eggs for subsistence in the spring and summer.
  • Immediate family members who live in non-subsistence areas may be invited to assist in hunting by a local village council. Contact us if you’d like more information on this process.

Licenses and Equipment

  • You need a hunting license if you are age 18 or older. Low-income hunting licenses and elders’ lifetime licenses are available.
  • Federal duck stamps are no longer required to participate in the spring/summer harvest.
  • You need a State duck stamp ($5) if you are 18 or older. (Exception: Disabled veterans, hunters 60 years and older, and hunters with a low-income license do not need a state duck stamp.) State duck stamps are valid from April 2 - Jan. 31.
  • Both rifles and shotguns (no larger than 10 gauge) may be used. You do not have to plug your shotgun.
  • No lead shot may be used. Lead can be toxic to wildlife & people.
  • You are not allowed to have lead shot with you while hunting for migratory birds.


Migratory birds can be hunted during three seasons in the spring and summer:

  • April 2 - June14
  • July 1 - July 15 (only molting, non-nesting waterfowl)
  • July 16 - August 31

Eggs can be gathered during two seasons:

  • April 2 - June 14 (geese, ducks and other waterfowl eggs)
  • May 20 - July 12 (gulls, crowbills, puffins and other seabird eggs)

During the season you may hunt any time, 24 hours per day.

What Can Be Harvested?

As a customary and traditional hunt, there are no bag limits on the number of birds that can be taken, as long as the harvest is not wasteful. However, these species are closed to hunting and egg gathering due to low numbers:

  • Tuutlik (Yellow-billed Loon)
  • Qavaasuk (Spectacled Eiders
  • Iñniqaaqtuq (Steller’s Eiders)
  • Emperor Geese (Liġliqpak - pictured to the left) are closed to egg gathering due to low numbers.

Migratory birds may be taken only for human consumption. Taxidermy is not allowed and migratory birds and eggs can’t be bought or sold.

A rule change to allow nonedible parts of some migratory birds to be used in Alaska Native handicrafts was adopted in 2017. Please contact us if you would like more information.