Water levels in many rivers are breaking historical records. The Souris River in southeastern Saskatchewan recently broke the high water level mark that was set in 1881. Given the wet summer and fall in 2010, combined with over 300 mm of precipitation since April 2011, much of southern Saskatchewan has experienced unprecedented wet conditions. Habitat conditions are excellent in most of the province, including key waterfowl production landscapes like the Missouri Coteau and Allan Hills.
According to the USFWS/CWS survey, total duck breeding population estimates were up 56 percent compared to 2010, and populations of most species have increased over this period as well. Compared to 2010, mallard numbers were up by 23 percent and northern pintails were up by 233 percent. Although northern pintail numbers are still 5 percent below the LTA, this is the highest population recorded in the traditional survey area since 1980. Scaup populations were up 41 percent in 2011 compared to 2010, but were still 15 percent below the LTA.
Across the province, DUC staff have been reporting broods in the 1A to 1C class range (1 to 3 weeks old), as well as a few older broods. Since wetland conditions have been so good, it is harder to detect broods because they are more widely dispersed and cover is plentiful. Waterfowl production should be good to excellent this year and, given the excellent water conditions, there should be a considerable re-nesting effort if initial nesting attempts failed.
According to the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture’s Crop Report, 82 percent of the province has been seeded, and haying operations are underway. Over 50 percent of the crops are behind normal development for this time of year and are rated as fair to good. Thousands of acres of land have not been accessible this spring due to flooding and road closures.