Duck population estimates show promising numbers

PRATT­- Duck populations are strong, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) 2013 Report on Trends in Duck Breeding Populations. The preliminary estimate of total duck populations from the traditional survey area (northcentral United States, southcentral and northern Canada, and Alaska) is 45.6 million birds­- a six percent decrease from last year’s estimate of 48.6 million birds, but a 33 percent increase from the long-term average. In addition to estimating duck populations, the survey also examines habitat conditions.
Habitat conditions during the 2013 survey were generally improved or similar to last year due to above-average precipitation, despite a delayed spring throughout most of the traditional survey area. Most of the Canadian portions of the traditional survey area were rated as good to excellent, in contrast to 2012 when drier conditions existed across northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Although the U.S. prairies received record snowfall in April, habitat conditions were still rated only fair to poor, similar to last year. The total pond estimate (prairie Canada and the north-central United States combined) is 6.9 million, 24 percent higher than the 2012 estimate of 5.5 million ponds and 35 percent above the long-term average.
In the eastern survey area – eastern Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime Provinces and Maine – estimated mallard abundance is 500,000 birds. Habitat conditions across most of the eastern survey area generally were good with the exception of Maine and the southern Maritimes, which were rated only as fair.
The report also notes:

  • Estimated mallard abundance is 10.4 million birds, similar to the 2012 estimate of 10.6 million birds and 36 percent above the long-term average.
  • Blue-winged teal estimated abundance is 7.7 million. Although this is 16 percent below the 2012 estimate of 9.2 million, the blue-wing population is 60 percent above the long-term average. Similarly, the green-winged teal estimate of 3.1 million is 12 percent below last year, but still 51 percent above the long-term average.
  • The northern pintail estimate of 3.3 million is similar to the 2012 estimate of 3.5 million and 17 percent below the long-term average.
  • Estimated abundance of American wigeon is 2.6 million and 23 percent above the 2012 estimate and similar to the long-term average.
  • The combined lesser and greater scaup estimate of 4.2 million decreased 20 percent from last year and is 17 percent below the long-term average of 5 million.
  • The canvasback estimate of 787,000 is similar to the 2012 estimate and 37 percent above the long-term average.

The surveys are conducted by the USFWS and Canadian Wildlife Services’ Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, sampling more than 2 million square miles of waterfowl habitat across Alaska, the northcentral and northeastern United States and southcentral, eastern and northern Canada.
The information guides the USFWS waterfowl conservation programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The USFWS then 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. 2013 Kansas duck hunting season dates and bag limits will be approved at the Aug. 1 commission meeting in Yates Center.
For more information about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013 Report on Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, visit
For more information on Kansas waterfowl hunting, visit and click “Hunting/Migratory Birds/Ducks.”

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