Mallard numbers declined by 15 percent this spring compared to a year ago, said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. Blue-wing teal numbers also plummeted — by 51 percent statewide.
In a press release, the DNR said:
This year’s mallard breeding population was estimated at 214,000, which is 15 percent below last year’s estimate of 250,000 breeding mallards and 6 percent below the long-term average measured each year since 1968.
The blue-winged teal population is 159,000 this year, 51 percent below last year’s estimate and 25 percent below the long-term average.
The combined populations of other ducks such as ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads is 263,000, which is 23 percent higher than last year and 48 percent above the long-term average.
The estimate of total duck abundance (excluding scaup) is 636,000, which is 19 percent lower than last year and 3 percent above the long-term average.
The estimated number of wetlands was 20 percent higher than last year and 5 percent above the long-term average. Wetland numbers can vary greatly based on annual precipitation.
Canada goose population increases
This year’s Canada goose population was estimated at 322,000 geese, higher than last year’s estimate of 202,000 geese and 9 percent above the long-term average.
“With the early spring and favorable habitat, Canada geese had a very good nesting year and there are lots of young goslings present across the state,” Cordts said.
The number of breeding Canada geese in the state is estimated via a helicopter survey of nesting Canada geese in April. The survey counts Canada geese on randomly selected plots located in prairie, transition and forested areas of the state and includes most of the state except for the Twin Cities area metro area.
The 2017 Minnesota waterfowl report is available at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl.