Waterfowl hunters can begin to rejoice as the season draws near. Not only has the countdown to setting decoys, calling, shooting and working dogs in real-life conditions begun, the ****Ducks Unlimited 2010 waterfowl forecast is favorable with most duck species at or above their long-term average. That means liberal bag limits and season dates!
Every waterfowler knows that nesting habitat dictates population cycles and that poor conditions mean a low-point in that cycle. This year, however, pond counts (the unit of measure for wetland abundance on the prairie nesting grounds) were 34-percent above the long-term average and nearly all duck species were similar to last year’s populations. Check out some of the highlights from the DU forecast:
- This year’s mallard population of 8.4 million birds was almost unchanged from 2009 and near a 10-year high.
- Pintails had a population of 3.5 million birds–the largest estimate for this species since 1997 and near a 30-year high.
- Record numbers of green-winged teal and redheads were surveyed this spring on major waterfowl breeding areas.
- Gadwalls and shovelers also remained at high population levels, and canvasbacks and American wigeon held near their long-term averages.
- This year’s scaup population of 4.2 million birds was also unchanged from 2009 levels but significantly higher than their all-time low of 3.2 million birds in 2006.
For more on waterfowl seasons, populations and harvests, visit http://flyways.us/ –a collaborative venture by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Migratory Bird Management, the flyway councils, and state wildlife agencies.