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North American duck breeding population at record high

  • Blog Post by: Doug Smith
  • July 3, 2012 - 2:25 PM
First came bad news about Minnesota’s duck breeding population being down.
 
Now comes good news.
 
The North American duck breeding population is estimated at 48.6 million, up from 45.6 million last year and 43 percent above the long-term average, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
 
The agency says waterfowl production in North America’s duck factory is at a record high.
 
"This is the highest duck count since we started the survey in 1955," says Dr. Frank Rohwer, Delta Waterfowl's scientific director. "We had excellent wetland conditions in 2011, the second-highest pond count ever. So last year, we made a pile of ducks. This year, we're counting them." 

 
Highlights from the survey in the north-central U.S., south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska (the traditional survey area):
 
•Mallard abundance is 10.6 million – a 15 percent increase over 2011 and a 39 percent increase over the long-term average of 7.6 million.
 
•Gadwall abundance is 10 percent above the 2011 estimate, and 96 percent above the long-term average.
 
•American wigeon abundance increased 3 percent from 2011, but remains 17 percent below the long-term average.
 
•Abundance of green-winged teal and blue-winged teal were 3.5 million and 9.2 million, which were 20 percent and 3 percent above their 2011 numbers. Both species continue to remain well above their long-term averages by 74 percent and 94 percent, respectively.
 
•Abundance for northern shovelers is 5.0 million, which is 8 percent above 2011, and 111 percent above their long-term average.
 
•Northern pintails are at 3.5 million which is 22 percent below the 2011 estimate and 14 percent below the long-term average.
 
•Redhead abundance was unchanged from last year but 89 percent above the long-term average.
 
•Canvasback abundance was 0.8 million, which was 10 percent above last year’s estimate and 33 percent above their long-term average
 
•The combined lesser and greater scaup abundance estimate was 5.2 million, which was 21 percent above the 2011 estimate and 4 percent above the long-term average.
 
The annual trend in duck breeding population survey samples more than 2 million square miles of waterfowl habitat across the U.S. and Canada.  Habitat conditions observed across the survey areas during the survey were characterized by average to below-average moisture, especially in the southern portions; due primarily to a mild winter and an early spring.
 
 The 2012 survey’s estimate of ponds for the north-central U.S. was 1.7 million, which was 49 percent below the 2011 estimate of 3.2 million, and similar to the long-term average.
Significant decreases in wetland numbers and conditions occurred in the U.S. Prairies during 2012. Nearly all of the north-central U.S. habitat was rated as good to excellent in 2011; however, only the habitat in the coteau region of North and South Dakota was rated as good in 2012, and no areas were rated as excellent habitat this year. Drastic wetland declines in western South Dakot and Montana resulted in mostly poor to fair habitat conditions.
 
See the entire report at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds.

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