MEMPHIS, Tenn. – July 2, 2010 – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released its preliminary report today on mid-continent breeding ducks and habitats, based on surveys conducted in May. The total duck population is nearly 41 million, which is similar to last year's estimate and 21 percent above the long-term average.
"These are encouraging numbers as we see most species are at or above their long-term averages," said Dale Humburg, Ducks Unlimited chief biologist. "The habitat conditions in many regions should support a good breeding effort."
Habitat conditions across the U.S. and Canadian prairies and parklands were generally good. However, further north, wetland conditions in boreal regions of Alaska and northern Canada were only fair at the time of the survey. During the survey and into early summer, many regions important to breeding ducks received significant precipitation, which could increase later breeding efforts and ensure brood survival. If these wet conditions continue, prospects going into the winter and possibly into spring 2011 could be favorable as well.
Mallards, gadwalls, green-winged teal, northern shovelers and redheads mirrored last year's numbers, and all remained above their long-term averages. Canvasback and American wigeon numbers were similar to last year's, as were pintail and scaup numbers, although populations of these two species remain below their long-term averages.
"It's great to hear the report of steady duck populations, but habitat loss continues to be a significant threat to North America's waterfowl," said Dale Hall, DU CEO. "For most species, this year's numbers are encouraging, but DU must remain dedicated to its mission of long-term, landscape-level habitat conservation if we are to meet the life-cycle needs of the continent's waterfowl."
"I would expect to see a fall flight similar to last year's," Humburg says. "But everyone must keep in mind that weather and habitat strongly influence the timing and distribution of ducks in the fall flight, and these factors are very dynamic. Although I'm optimistic about the 2010 fall flight, it's several months before the season opens, and a lot could happen to migration and wintering habitat before then."
Ducks Unlimited is the world's largest non-profit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 12 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.