MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Duck numbers overall remain strong this year. Despite slight declines, most species remain well above long-term averages, according to a press release from Ducks Unlimited.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports that total duck populations are estimated at 45.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed area. This estimate represents a 6-percent decrease from last year’s estimate of 48.6 million birds, and is 33 percent above the 1955-2012 long-term average.
“This spring saw abundant moisture in much of the heart of North America’s most important duck breeding areas,” said DU Chief Scientist Dale Humburg. “That bodes well for duck breeding success this summer and hopefully for hunting this fall. But we remain concerned with continuing loss of nesting habitat in these areas. Because ducks need both water and upland habitats to successfully raise their young, the ongoing loss of grasslands and wetlands across the Prairie Pothole Region will continue to impact the number of ducks in the fall flight.”
Of the 10 species surveyed, seven were similar to last year’s estimates, including mallards. scaup and blue-winged teal were significantly below last year’s estimates. American wigeon were 23 percent above last year.
Mallards, similar in number to 2012, are 36 percent above the long-term average. Two species (northern pintail and scaup) remained below their long-term average and North American Waterfowl Management Plan goals.