Duck Population at All-Time High!

Here's some news that's a joy to report: According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's preliminary survey of breeding ducks, the duck population is the highest it's been since the survey began in 1955!


The USFWS' estimate of 45.6 million birds is an 11-percent increase over last year's estimate of 40.8 million birds and 35 percent above the long-term average (LTA). Mallards, North America's most prolific species, are up 9 percent, an increase of about 800,000 birds. Blue-winged teal are now a whopping 91 percent above the LTA after a 41-percent boost. Pintails, thankfully, appear to have reversed their long-term decline and are at their highest level since 1980. Greater and lesser scaup (counted together) are up 2 percent. (Can we shoot a third bluebill yet? PLEASE?)


The only species of concern are wigeon, down 14 percent from 2010 and 20 percent below the LTA, and green-winged teal, which fell 17 percent from last year. Fortunately green-wings are in little trouble of going extinct, as they remain 47 percent above their LTA.


Not only is the breeding population sky high, but extremely wet nesting conditions and mange-sapped red fox numbers are likely to result in excellent late-nesting success and brood survival.



(Chart courtesy of Delta Waterfowl)


For further analysis:


Delta Waterfowl


Download full USFWS report


Ducks Unlimited


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2 Responses to Duck Population at All-Time High!

KyleW wrote:
July 06, 2011

@DTuttle Excellent point. Conservation programs and sportsmen have played a large role in restoring waterfowl populations; however, I do fear that this high duck production will lull waterfowlers into a sense of complacency (more here: http://www.americanhunter.org/blogs/2011-nesting-conditions/). All is not well on the breeding grounds, but the wet cycle that began in 1994 has masked many severe habitat issues. We must remain committed to the future of waterfowl by continuing to buy duck stamps, supporting waterfowl conservation groups and voicing our support for the renewal of conservation programs (NAWCA, CRP, and WRP in particular). If the PPR were in a drought or even a normal stage, we'd likely be singing a different tune.

D Tuttle wrote:
July 05, 2011

Great news! You might add that hunters are one of the main reasons for this upward trend due to the habitat and conservation programs paid for by their purchasing of waterfowl stamps and hunting licenses.