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Illinois hunting and fishing

Survey says: duck factory produces 48.6 million birds

July 03, 2012 at 04:50 PM

Prairie State Outdoors

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports waterfowl numbers are at a record high in the duck breeding grounds in northern United States and Canada.

This year’s “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations” report estimates 48.6 million ducks, 3 million ducks higher than last year’s 45.6 million birds.

This year’s survey is 43 percent above the long-term average.

Mallard duck numbers stand at 10.6 million, up 9 percent over 2011 and 40 percent above the long-term average.

To arrive at the estimates, waterfowl biologists sample more than two million square miles of waterfowl habitat.

The survey encompasses the north-central United States, south central and northern Canada, and Alaska.

Species breakdown:

Illinois hunting and fishing

Mallard: 10.6 million, up 15 percent over 2011 and 40 percent over the long-term average.

Gadwall: 3.58 million, up 10 percent above last year and 96 percent above the LTA.

Green-winged teal: 3.5 million, 20 percent above last year and 74 percent above the LTA.

Wigeon: 2.14 million, up 3 percent over 2011 but down 17 percent from the LTA.

Blue-winged teal: 9.2 million, up 3 percent from 2011 and 94 percent above LTA.

Northern shovelers: 5 million, which is 8 percent above 2011, and 111 percent above their LTA.

Northern pintails: 3.5 million, down 22 percent over last year and 14 percent below the LTA.

Redhead: 1.27 million, unchanged from last year but 89 percent above the LTA.

Canvasback: 800,000, up 10 percent and 33 percent.

Scaup: 5.2 million, up 21 percent and 4 percent.

Gains in duck numbers came about despite habitat conditions with average or below-average moisture.

The survey found 1.7 million ponds in the north-central U.S., 49 percent below the 2011 estimate of 3.2 million, and similar to the long-term average.

The entire “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2012” report can be downloaded from the Service’s Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds.

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