Duck numbers hold steady at near record levels
July 18, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Waterfowl numbers on the breeding grounds in the north-central United States and the central Canadian provinces are down slightly from record levels, but still well above average.
The State Journal-Register
The 2013 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, conducted since 1955 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service, estimates this year’s breeding duck population at 45.6 million, just down from last year’s record of 48.5 million.
The second component of the survey, the May Ponds count, showed the number of wetlands counted up 24 percent to 6.89 million.
The number of wetlands varies with precipitation. High numbers indicate plenty of good breeding habitat and the potential for good reproduction this summer.
Most duck species also were counted at slightly lower levels this spring. Exceptions were the American wigeon and canvasback with increases of 23 percent and 4 percent respectively.
The most plentiful duck, the mallard, declined 2 percent to 10.3 million. Mallards still account for 22 percent of all breeding ducks.
The blue-winged teal is next with 7.7 million birds, down from 9.2 million last year but still far outstripping the long-term average by 60 percent.
Likewise, green-winged teal came in at 3 million, down from 3.4 million, but more than 50 percent above long-term averages.
Blind drawings coming up
The status of the continent’s “duck factory,” and the number of breeding ducks always is a topic of conversation at waterfowl blind drawings held at public hunting sites each summer. Drawing dates are Sunday, and on July 27-28 and Aug. 3.
Most central Illinois sites along the Illinois River will hold their drawings July 28, including Anderson Lake, Clear Lake, Marshall, Rice Lake, Sanganois, Spring Lake, Starved Rock and Woodford.
Hunters must register in person for waterfowl blind site drawings and must be present at the drawing to claim their blind sites.
Blind allocations are good for one year, except on the Mississippi River Pools, and Meredosia Lake in Morgan and Cass counties, which are good for two.
Applicants must present a 2012 or 2013 Illinois hunting or sportsman combination license and a 2012 or 2013 Illinois Migratory Waterfowl Stamp at the time they register.
Applicants must be at least 16 years old by the date of the drawing.
Licenses and stamps should be purchased ahead of time.
Registrants must also possess a current Illinois Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) card from the Illinois State Police.
For complete rules and a list of all drawings, visit: http://tinyurl.com/drawblind.