In 2013, good wetland conditions in the Prairie Pothole Region, the Western Boreal Forest, and many other key waterfowl breeding areas helped total duck numbers in the traditional survey area remain near a record high. While this is great news for waterfowl hunters, the habitats that support duck populations continue to be threatened. Widespread annual losses of small prairie wetlands, native grasslands, and upland cover formerly enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program continue to erode the habitat base that supports healthy duck populations.
"The fact is that many of the waterfowl that fill the flyways each year are raised on unsecured habitats," DU CEO Dale Hall says. "We must maintain our focus on protecting and restoring important waterfowl habitat across the birds' range in order to see these kinds of numbers again in future wet years."
Related: DU Chief Scientist outlines waterfowl season expectations
For more information about waterfowl populations and habitat conditions on the breeding grounds, visit flyways.us, ducks.org, and ducks.ca.
Liberal Regulations Recommended Again With generally good wetland conditions on the prairies and healthy mallard populations in each survey region, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has once again recommended liberal hunting regulations for the upcoming waterfowl season in every flyway. Based on this year's midcontinent mallard breeding population of 10.8 million birds, which includes combined estimates of mallards in the traditional survey area (minus Alaska) and the Great Lakes states (Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan), and almost 4.6 million May ponds in prairie Canada, liberal hunting regulations were proposed for the Central and Mississippi flyways. Populations of eastern and western mallard stocks also remained healthy, allowing for liberal hunting regulations in the Atlantic and Pacific flyways as well. Check with the appropriate state or provincial wildlife agency for season dates, daily bag limits, possession limits, shooting times, and other waterfowl regulations in the areas where you plan to hunt.