Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program HIP Survey to Get a License

Harvest Information Program HIP Survey
Harvest Information Program HIP

The Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program HIP is a survey. It’s used by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and State wildlife agencies to find out how many migratory game birds were killed, on what days, and by how many hunters during the previous season.  They use the information for wildlife management and to set hunting seasons and bag limits.  In California, Migratory Game Birds include the birds listed below. Follow the links for hunting rules, bag limits, shooting hours, authorized methods for hunting, and hunting areas.

  1. Band-tailed Pigeon.
  2. Coots.
  3. Ducks.
  4. Doves (Western mourning and White-winged doves).
  5. Geese (including Black Brant)
  6. Moorhen.
  7. Snipe.

In other states, it’s also used for swans, woodcock, rails, and sandhill cranes.

Click here for more info about the HIP Program from the USFWS.  Click here for more info from the CDFW and scroll down to “Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation” under “Bird Hunting Validations

Who needs to complete the Harvest Information Program HIP?

In general, everyone that intends to hunt migratory game birds must complete the Harvest Information Program HIP survey.  In California, you cannot get a hunting license until after you complete the survey. There are a few exemptions to the requirement:

  1. Hunting in Hawaii,
  2. Hunting by tribal members on Federal Indian Reservations or ceded lands, and
  3. Hunters exempt from licensing requirements.

Click here for more a description from the CDFW and scroll down to “Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation” under Bird Hunting Validations.

How do I take the HIP survey?

When you go to get your hunting license, you have to first complete the Harvest Information Program HIP survey.  You have to identify yourself as a migratory bird hunter.  You also have to give them your name, address, and date of birth. In California, you’ll also be asked to report how many ducks, geese, doves, and woodcock were bagged the previous year, whether you hunted coots, snipe, rails, and/or gallinules and whether you intend to hunt band-tailed pigeons during the current year.

Your answers allow the USFWS to mail a more detailed survey to a select number of hunters.  Here are the surveys:

Migratory Bird Hunter Survey (Hunter Survey) 
Migratory Bird Parts Collection Survey (Wing Survey)

If selected, you’ll get surveyed by the USFWS near the beginning of the year and for about twice a month.  Your participation is voluntary and only about half of the people do. Click here for more information about the HIP Program from the USFWS.

Where do I do the HIP survey?

You can take the HIP survey wherever hunting licenses are sold.  Sometimes, you have to ask the sell to ask you the HIP questions and get you signed up. Click here for more a description from the CDFW and scroll down to “Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation” under Bird Hunting Validations.

Click here for more information about the HIP Program from the USFWS.

How much does it cost?

Some states charge a fee to cover their costs, but they’re not allowed to make money off of it.  In California, though, the Harvest Information Program HIP Survey is free. Click here for more info from the CDFW and scroll down to “Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation” under Bird Hunting Validations.

What do I do with the survey after I complete it?

Whenever you hunt migratory game birds, you have to be able to show proof that you completed the HIP survey.  In California, the CDFW issues a “validation” that’s printed onto your hunting license. It must be carried with you while hunting those birds.

Click here for more information about the HIP Program from the USFWS.

Where can I read the regulations?

 Click here to read the federal rules.

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