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The Great Salt Lake’s water levels rebounded slightly this year thanks to Utah’s wet winter and spring, after dropping to their lowest levels in recorded history last year.

This is good news for waterfowl and Utah’s hunters as the general waterfowl hunting seasons kick off Oct. 7.

“While the underlying water-supply challenges facing the Great Salt Lake continue, Utah’s hunters can expect to see more typical habitat conditions this year both on the lake and its surrounding wetlands,” said Ducks Unlimited Regional Biologist Coryna Hebert.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources also reports local duck populations have fared well, despite the Great Salt Lake’s water levels remaining well below their long-term average.

The DNR reports local duck populations in Utah are doing great this year, and several public wetland managers saw excellent duck production in their respective management areas. 

Canada goose production in Utah was down this year, which the DNR says was likely due to many of their nests being flooded during the spring runoff. Canada goose populations in the Pacific Flyway are increasing and are currently above their population objectives.

Continental duck populations, however, dropped by 7% from 2022's estimate of 34.7 million waterfowl. That’s 9% below the long-term average, according to this year’s federal continental waterfowl breeding population survey.

“Given that millions of North America’s waterfowl rely on the Great Salt Lake, declining populations should serve as another wake-up call about just how important it is to keep Utah’s iconic lake and its wetlands healthy,” Hebert said. “Ducks Unlimited remains committed to saving this vital ecosystem that has a long waterfowl hunting tradition on public lands and private duck clubs.”

What Ducks Unlimited is doing to support conservation in Utah

Last year, as Great Salt Lake was on the verge of an ecosystem collapse, Ducks Unlimited launched its Great Salt Lake Initiative to replenish the lake through wetland conservation.

The initiative set an ambitious goal of raising $5 million in just five years. Within a year, DU raised $2 million in private donations, putting the organization well on pace to hit its fundraising target.

That funding is already being put to good use, starting with DU securing an additional $1 million from the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Earlier this year, DU began fixing a long-neglected levee that is critical to the 19,000-acre Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area. Now finished, it will help keep the Weber River from tearing up the wildlife area’s habitat for many years to come. The management area is one of the most heavily used for waterfowl hunting in the state, underlining the recreational benefits of Ducks Unlimited’s conservation work. Several other habitat projects are slated to break ground in the coming months. 

At the same time, Ducks Unlimited’s policy team began lobbying in the Utah Legislature for lake- and wetland-friendly policies. By the time the legislative session wrapped up in the spring of 2023, bills DU supported allocated $225 million for the benefit of wetlands.

Ducks Unlimited also supported a bill that allows Utahns to purchase digital state duck stamps this season, making it easier for hunters and other waterfowl enthusiasts to support conservation.

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing wetland and grassland habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has restored or protected more than 16 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science, DU’s projects benefit waterfowl, wildlife and people in all 50 states. DU is growing its mission through a historic $3 billion Conservation For A Continent capital campaign. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Ryan Sabalow, Western Region - Communications Coordinator
(916) 805-1210