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Print

Duck population remains stable

July 02, 2010 at 02:01 PM

The 2010 preliminary estimate of the total duck population from the traditional survey area of the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey is 40.9 million birds. This is similar to last year’s estimate of 42 million birds and is 21 percent above the long-term average.

This report summarizes information about the status of duck populations and wetland habitats during spring 2010, focusing on areas encompassed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife (USFWS) and Canadian Wildlife Services’ (CWS) Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey.

The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey samples more than two million square miles of waterfowl habitat across the north-central and northeastern United States, south-central, eastern, and northern Canada, and Alaska. The survey estimates the number of ducks on the continent’s primary nesting grounds.

Highlights from the survey in the north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska (the traditional survey area) include:

  * Estimated mallard abundance was 8.4 million birds, which was similar to the 2009 estimate of 8.5 million birds and 12 percent above the long-term (1955-2009) average;

  * Estimated abundance of American wigeon (2.4 million) was similar to 2009 and to the long-term average;

  * Gadwall estimated abundance (3 million) was similar to 2009 and 67 percent greater than the long-term average;

  * The estimated abundance of green-winged teal was 3.5 million, which was similar to the 2009 estimate and 78 percent above their long-term average of 1.9 million;

  *  Blue-winged teal estimated abundance was 6.3 million, which was 14 percent below the 2009 estimate, but 36 percent above the long-term average of 4.7 million;

  * Estimates of northern shovelers (4.1 million) and redheads (1.1 million) were similar to 2009 and were 76 percent and 63 percent above long-term averages;

  * The northern pintail estimate of 3.5 million was similar to the 2009 estimate and 13 percent below the long-term average of
4 million;

  * The canvasback estimate of 0.6 million was similar to the 2009 estimate and to the long-term average;

  * The combined (lesser and greater) scaup estimate of 4.2 million was similar to that of 2009 and 16 percent below the long-term average of 5.1 million.

In the eastern survey area (northeastern United States and eastern Canada), the population estimate for mergansers was 386,000, 15 percent below the 2009 estimate and 14 percent below the 1990-2009 average. American black duck populations were similar to the 2009 estimate but 7 percent below the long-term average of 479,000. All other duck population estimates in the eastern survey area were similar to the 2009 estimates and the 1990-2009 average.

Habitat conditions during the 2010 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey were characterized by average to below-average moisture and a mild winter and early spring across the entire traditional (including the northern locations) and eastern survey areas. Conditions across the Canadian prairies were similar to 2009. Portions of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba improved, but a large area along the Alberta and Saskatchewan border remained dry and moisture levels in portions of Manitoba declined from last year.

The 2010 estimate of ponds in Prairie Canada was 3.7 million. This was similar to last year’s estimate (3.6 million) and to the 1955–2009 average (3.4 million). Wetland numbers and conditions remained excellent in the eastern U.S. prairies, but habitat conditions were poorer through the western Dakotas and Montana. The 2010 pond estimate for the north-central U.S. overall was 2.9 million, which was similar to last year’s estimate (2.9 million) and 87 percent above the long-term average (1.6 million). Fall and winter precipitation in the eastern Dakotas generally improved the good habitat conditions already present. However, wetland habitats in the western Dakotas and Montana were not recharged, resulting in poorer conditions than in 2009, at the time of the survey.

The annual survey guides the Service’s waterfowl conservation programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Service works in partnership with state biologists from the four flyways – the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific – to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates, and bag limits.

Click here to read the entire “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2010” report.

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