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Banding Together for Waterfowl

2011 Waterfowl Forecast

Duck populations soared to record highs this spring 
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Mississippi Flyway

The majority of Mississippi Flyway waterfowl are raised on the prairies of the United States and Canada, as well as in Ontario, the Great Lakes states, and western boreal forest. In southern Manitoba, total duck numbers were up 41 percent in 2011 and were similar to the long-term average. Populations of several duck species—including mallards, pintails, blue-winged teal, and canvasbacks—were up significantly in the region this spring.

DU Canada biologist Mark Francis reports that waterfowl production is expected to be above average this year in southern Manitoba. "Record spring flooding filled wetlands on key breeding areas, and an unprecedented 3 million acres of cropland were left unseeded. In addition, wet weather significantly delayed haying operations this year, which likely benefited upland-nesting species. With water everywhere across southern Manitoba, there was a strong renesting effort, and brood survival was also expected to be high," Francis says. 

The outlook for waterfowl production is also bright in neighboring Ontario, where frequent spring rains recharged wetlands across the province. "Assessments by the USFWS and CWS indicate that waterfowl breeding habitats were in much better condition this year than they were in 2010," says DU Canada biologist Erling Armson. "Field reports indicate that many waterfowl species had a good initial breeding effort, with some typical renesting due to predation and nest flooding. Water levels remained relatively high well into July, so broods were widely distributed across the wetland base. Overall, waterfowl production is expected to be above average this year in Ontario."
A record 15.7 million breeding ducks were surveyed on the U.S. prairies—more than one-third of the total in the traditional survey area.

Mallards and other ducks raised in the Great Lakes states contribute to waterfowl harvests in the eastern Mississippi Flyway as well as the Atlantic Flyway. Spring wetland conditions were good to excellent in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and mallard populations in these states were similar to 2010 estimates and their long-term averages. Wetland conditions were variable this spring in Michigan, and mallard numbers declined from the previous year's estimate as well as the long-term average. 

The goose production outlook in the Mississippi Flyway is mixed. Among Canada geese, the Mississippi Valley and Eastern Prairie populations are expected to have smaller-than-average fall flights this year, while the Southern James Bay Population should have a fall flight larger than last year's. Good production was reported among midcontinent white-fronted geese, and this population is expected to have a larger fall flight this year. Lesser snow and Ross's geese should have an average fall flight in 2011. 

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