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A bird flies low over a pond for a landing.
Information icon Common merganser. Photo courtesy of Stan Bousson.

Hunting season opens with a bang on Merritt Island Refuge

The general waterfowl hunting season has opened big at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Florida.

More than a dozen vehicles started lining up more than 24 hours in advance for the opening on Saturday, November 17. By the time the refuge opened at 4 a.m. that morning, the line of vehicles stretched over the Max Brewer Bridge into Titusville.

So far, 960 hunters have harvested 2,411 ducks over the first two weeks of the regular waterfowl season. Hunting resumes Saturday, December 8, and will be offered on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays during December and January, as well as Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. A Youth Hunt will be held on February 2 and 3.

“This wildly popular opening reflects the refuge’s strong relationships with our partners like United Waterfowlers Florida, Ducks Unlimited, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission,” said Layne Hamilton, refuge manager. “These organizations aided the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in hosting two recent public workshops that were held to continue partnerships to improve the refuge’s waterfowl hunt program.”

As an example of the partnerships at work, volunteers from United Waterfowlers Florida repaired a hole in one of the refuge impoundments that was created by Hurricane Irma. The success of the early season also reflects the work of Service employees to create opportunities for public recreation.

The refuge allows harvesting of ducks, coots and mergansers. Common species include lessor scaup, teal, wigeon, gadwall, and pintail.

Merritt Island NWR is located on a barrier island on Florida’s Atlantic coast along with NASA’s

Kennedy Space Center. Waterfowl hunting is permitted on 36,000 acres of the Refuge’s 140,000 acres. The remainder of the refuge is closed to hunting to protect non-game birds and endangered species and to permit other recreational activities.


Phil Kloer, Public affairs specialist, (404) 679-7299

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. For more information on our work and the people who can make it happen, visit Connect with the Service on Facebook, follow our tweets, watch the YouTube Channel and download photos from Flickr.

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