Duck Numbers Remain High
Most populations are above long-term averages; pintails and scaup are still a concern
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) today released its report on 2017 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June by FWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Overall duck numbers in the survey area remain high. Total populations were estimated at 47.3 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, which is similar to last year’s estimate of 48.4 million and is 34 percent above the 1955-2016 long-term average. The projected mallard fall flight index is 12.9 million birds, similar to the 2016 estimate of 13.5 million.
The main determining factor for duck breeding success is wetland and upland habitat conditions in the key breeding landscapes of the prairies and the boreal forest. Conditions observed across the U.S. and Canadian survey areas during the 2017 breeding population survey were generally similar to last year with a few exceptions. The total pond estimate for the U.S. and Canada combined was 6.1 million, which is 22% above the 2016 estimate of 5.0 million and 17% above the long-term average of 5.2 million.
View the full news release | View complete US FWS report
The spring surveys provide the scientific basis for many management programs across the continent, including hunting season dates and bag limits. Individual states set their hunting seasons within a federal framework of season length, bag limits and dates. Hunters should check the rules in their states for final dates and bag limits.