Improved conditions in much of the waterfowl breeding habitat in Canada and the prairies of the north-central United States have contributed to higher populations of many species of ducks, according to breeding population estimates released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today.
The preliminary estimate of the total duck population from the traditional survey area (north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska) was 45.6 million birds. This estimate represents an 11 percent increase over last year’s estimate of 40.8 million birds and is 35 percent above the long-term average (the total duck estimate excludes scoters, eiders, long-tailed ducks, mergansers, and wood ducks).
The surveys are summarized in the 2011 Report on Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, which contains information about the status of duck populations and wetland habitats found during spring of 2011.
The surveys are conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Services’ Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, which involves sampling 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. Information is not included from surveys conducted by state or provincial agencies.
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.
The entire Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2011 report can be downloaded from the Service's Website at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/
article source and photo credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service