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tealitup

Duck Numbers Up

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From the Ducks Unlimited Website

Preliminary report shows increase in breeding ducks for 2007

MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 11, 2007 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today released its preliminary report on mid-continent breeding ducks and habitats, based on surveys conducted in May. Overall, duck populations increased 14 percent since last year with an estimated 41.2 million breeding ducks on the surveyed area. As a result of winter snowfall and good precipitation, habitat conditions are similar or slightly improved compared to conditions in 2006.

"The 14 percent increase in breeding numbers for the 10 surveyed species is consistent with what Ducks Unlimited’s field biologists have observed across the U.S. and Canadian breeding grounds this spring," said Ducks Unlimited’s Executive Vice President, Don Young. "Excellent brood-rearing habitat is present in many areas and brood survival is expected to be above average."

2007 Breeding Ducks By Species (in millions)

Species 2006 2007 % Change

from 2006 Change from

Long-term Avg.

Mallard 7.277 8.032 +10 +7

Gadwall 2.825 3.355 +19 +96

American wigeon 2.171 2.803 +29 +7

Green-winged teal 2.587 2.911 +13 +55

Blue-winged teal 5.860 6.694 +14 +48

Northern shoveler 3.680 4.553 +24 +106

Northern pintail 3.386 3.335 -2 -19

Redhead 0.916 1.009 +10 +60

Canvasback 0.691 0.865 +25 +53

Scaup 3.247 3.452 +6 -33

One of the most important elements in duck breeding success is the amount of water present on the prairie breeding grounds. When the survey was conducted in May, total pond counts for the United States and Canada combined showed 7 million ponds, a 15 percent increase from last year’s estimate, and 44 percent higher than the long-term average.

The mallard number is 10 percent higher than last year. An estimated 8 million mallards are on the prairies this spring, compared to last year’s estimate of 7.3 million birds. Mallard numbers are 7 percent above the long-term average.

"The increase in mallard populations continues to keep them at levels near the North American Waterfowl Management Plan goal," said DU’s Director of Conservation Operations, Dr. Scott Yaich.

The most positive news coming out of this year’s survey is that redheads, canvasbacks and northern shovelers are at record highs, and increases were also seen in two of three species of concern.

American wigeon numbers improved to 2.8 million (7 percent above the long-term average) and lesser scaup numbers improved slightly to 3.4 million. While this slight increase is a positive mark on a 20-year decline, scaup remain 33 percent below their long-term average.

Pintail numbers remained similar to last year (down 2 percent) and are still 19 percent below the long-term average. However, this year’s excellent habitat conditions could benefit pintail recruitment.

"It was extremely wet across the southern prairies and parklands in general, and the core pintail breeding areas in Saskatchewan, in particular," said Yaich.

Nine of the 10 surveyed species increased this year. Blue-winged teal jumped 14 percent to an estimated 6.7 million birds. This is the third highest estimate for blue-winged teal since 1955 (48 percent above their long-term average). Green-winged teal also increased 13 percent to 2.9 million birds (55 percent above the long-term average).

There was an estimated 3.4 million breeding gadwall on the survey area. This boosts their population by 19 percent since last year and 96 percent above the long-term average. For the second year, redheads also increased 10 percent to 1 million birds (60 percent above the long-term average).

Canvasbacks increased by 25 percent. Now an estimated 865,000 breeding birds are on the survey area, a healthy 53 percent above their long-term average. Northern shovelers are at an all time high. With 4.6 million northern shovelers on the prairies, their numbers are 106 percent above the long-term average.

“Pintail and scaup continue to be well below their long-term averages and remain a significant concern,” said Yaich. “DU and others are continuing with targeted research programs on scaup and pintails that we hope will soon give us a better understanding of the conservation actions that will help these species recover.

"Overall, there was some improvement in populations compared to 2006. Habitat is the core factor driving the health of duck populations and the size of the fall flight," said Yaich. "When it is wet, there is still enough breeding habitat to maintain duck populations at levels that can produce a good fall flight. However, that habitat is under siege on many fronts and is being lost at alarming rates in some places. It’s important to maintain our focus on restoring and protecting these habitats, so they can continue to produce ducks for future generations."

As part of its new Wetlands for Tomorrow campaign, Ducks Unlimited recently launched two species conservation initiatives. The Mallard Conservation Initiative is designed to conserve the mallard’s most vital breeding, migration and wintering habitats in the prairies, and in other areas such as the Great Lakes region, the Chesapeake Bay, the Mississippi River watershed, the Columbia Basin and key areas of California. And, the Pintail Conservation Initiative is an effort to restore important breeding habitat in Alberta, Saskatchewan and the northern plains of the United States, as well as in key migration and wintering habitats of California’s Central Valley, the Klamath Basin, the Gulf Coast and Mexico.

Throughout May and June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service survey the main waterfowl breeding habitats from the mid-continent area to Alaska. Since 1990, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service have conducted surveys in eastern North America. Population estimates for all species surveyed were similar to last year and to the 1990-2006 averages. These surveys provide the scientific basis for many management programs across the continent including the setting of hunting regulations. This is the 52nd consecutive year of the mid-continent survey.

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Gotta get bluebill numbers up i support 1 scaup limit

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in my travels across south dakota this summer i have seen many areas where there are excellent numbers of ducks. also i know at least on the properties we hunt in western minnesota there was a great hatch of mallards and teal, and ive seen many adult spooners and redheads, but dont know how there nesting success was. now we just need some rain and favorable weather this fall so the migrators dont blow through in two days.

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I was very happy to see the increase in numbers (for everything but scaup and pintails)...should be a great year. Hoping to get a few more canvasbacks especially.

Mr Walleye- there are many studies out there that would disagree with the idea that lowering the limit on scaup would help their population. Since hunters have such a minimal impact on the populations of those birds the USFWS has said that a reduction from 2 birds to 1 or whatever will do virtually nothing to help them in the long run. Ultimately they need to figure out what is causing the hens to arrive on the nesting grounds in poor shape.

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Numbers do appear to be up. This is the first time in about the last three years that I have seen a second hatch. In fact, up at my buddies cabin 40 miles north of the border we have seen a momma mallard kick her first hatch and has had another one.

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Are you sure its not a different duck? Most ducks in the northern states will only brood and raise one nest of ducklings a year.

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Positive. She has a distinctive marking on her back. It looks like she may have had an encoutner with a fox and gotten lucky. She's hanging out in the same area...we always get a good look at her from the dock.

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nice report, that is good to see. even though it is dry here in southern mn it is seems that every time a front comes though the upper midwest that it dumps all the rain before it gets to mn(from what i have noticed anyway). which is great for the "duck factory"!

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