Migration Alert: Pacific Northwest Waterfowl Season Preview

Sept. 30, 2022 – Pacific Flyway – Pacific Northwest Preview

© Michael Furtman

The 2022–23 waterfowl season preview for the Pacific Northwest is once again a mixed bag, but it's not necessarily a repeat of last fall.

Fair outlooks for hunters in western Washington and Oregon will be tempered by unusually dry conditions east of the Cascades, prompting this terse observation: “It's going to give us cause for pause,” predicts Kyle Spragens, waterfowl section manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Dry conditions persist across eastern Washington, and Idaho's summer was hot to the extreme, reports Jeff Knetter, upland game and migratory bird coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

Nearly all of southeast Oregon's typically lush desert marshlands are dry, with the exceptions of the spring-fed Summer Lake Wildlife Management Area, upper Klamath Lake, and portions of Malheur and Klamath national wildlife refuges.

Mark Petrie, Ducks Unlimited's director of conservation planning in Vancouver, Washington, spent a few days this past week flying surveys over southern Oregon and northeast California, photographing typically well-watered marshes that instead are “shockingly dry.”

While there are ducks at Oregon's Summer Lake, Petrie believes that many birds are “destined for Tulelake, and I expect them to move quickly south into California's Central Valley.”

Much of California is also locked in drought, Petrie notes, but “If you have water, you're going to have ducks.”

Meanwhile, some better news.

Petrie, Spragens, and Brandon Reishus, waterfowl coordinator for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, agree that Alaska and to a degree British Columbia should produce plenty of ducks, especially for Puget Sound and areas of Oregon and Washington west of the Cascades.

Even better is the outlook for geese, which had fair to good nesting conditions across the northern tier of Alaska, Canada, and even Wrangel Island in Russia. Whitefronts have already begun moving south, and the first cackling and Canada geese are filtering into traditional areas in all states. As a result, the goose season outlook appears to be similar to past years throughout the Pacific Flyway, offering good hunting opportunities in drought-plagued areas that may see a dearth of ducks.