Hunting Dogs photo

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 –a collaborative venture by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Migratory Bird Management, the flyway councils, and state wildlife agencies.