Provided by North Dakota Game and Fish
The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey showed an index of 4.8 million birds, up 16 percent from last year and 112 percent above the long-term average (1948-2011). The 2012 index is the third highest on record.
All species were well above the long-term average. Wigeon (+88 percent) and green-winged teal (+221 percent) were at record highs. Mallards, gadwall, blue-winged teal, shovelers, redheads and ruddy ducks exceeded the long-term average by more than 100 percent.
Only pintails, shovelers and canvasbacks were down more than 10 percent from last year, and mallards were essentially unchanged. Blue-winged teal were at their highest level since 2001, missing the record high by less than 1 percent.
"Excellent production last summer brought many breeding pairs back to the state," said Mike Szymanski, waterfowl biologist. "Fortunately, there was still enough habitat to attract them to North Dakota."
The spring water index was down 57 percent from 2011 and 6 percent from the long-term average. Compared to last year, Szymanski said water indices observed on individual transects were all down 50-65 percent. The water index is based on basins with water, and does not necessarily represent the amount of water contained in wetlands.