Guidance for Waterfowl Hunting on Agricultural Lands in Maryland

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The Maryland Natural Resources Police (NRP) would like to remind hunters that State and federal regulations allow waterfowl hunting on agriculture fields only if they have been properly harvested or left in their natural state.

“This year’s tropical storms and hurricanes have resulted in some agricultural crops not being harvested. These fields cannot be hunted legally if the un-harvested crops have been manipulated ─ mowed, knocked down, etc.,” said Col. George F. Johnson IV. “The un-harvested fields can only be hunted if the crops remain in their natural state, only affected by the weather. Manipulated, un-harvested fields must be disked or plowed under, so that the grain is not accessible to the waterfowl for a period of 10 days prior to hunting.”

It is also unlawful to hunt waterfowl in areas where small grains have been top sown or broadcast on top of the soil, leaving the grain available to feeding birds. Before hunting can occur in these areas, all seeds must be germinated and growing, entirely covered by soil, or completely removed, at least 10 days prior to hunting. These situations are commonly referred to as waterfowl baiting.

Baiting also includes distributing grain on the land or water to entice waterfowl into hunting situations. It is not necessary for a hunter to know that an area is baited to be in violation of Maryland’s migratory bird baiting regulation, which is considered a strict liability offense. It is the hunter’s responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the hunting area is not or has not been baited. NRP recommends the following:

  • Hunters should become familiar with normal farming practices in the area (consult with USDA State Extension Specialist);
  • Hunters should consult the waterfowl hunting guide, and farmer or landowner regarding the farming practices, and any possible baiting on or near the hunting area;
  • Hunter should thoroughly inspect the area prior to hunting and leave the site if they find grain or feed.
  • For more information call the NRP Communication Center at 800-628-9944.


    hunter25's picture

    Good information here. I'm

    Good information here. I'm sure some guys would try to take advantage of the crop situation without realizing they were breaking the baiting laws and it will also be a warning to others who just might do in knowingly. There is a fine line in some of these situations but the law is the law and must be followed.