Some species down but overall numbers stable, well above long-term average
WASHINGTON, DC — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced results of the 2010 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, completed each spring, and numbers are similar to last year. The preliminary count of duck populations from the traditional survey areas estimates 40.9 million birds, similar to last year’s estimate of 42 million birds, and is 21 percent above the long-term average.

The report summary focused on areas encompassed by USFWS and Canadian Wildlife Services’ (CWS) Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey. The survey samples more than 2 million square miles of waterfowl habitat across north-central and northeastern United States; southcentral, eastern, and northern Canada; and Alaska. The survey estimates the number of ducks on the continent's primary nesting grounds.

Highlights from the survey in northcentral United States, southcentral and northern Canada, and Alaska (the traditional survey area) are illustrated in the following table:

2010 Estimates of May Ponds and Breeding Ducks (in millions)

Species 2009 2010 % Change From 2009 % Change from Long-term Ave.
May Ponds (U.S. & Canada 6.434 6.665 +4 % +34% *
Total Ducks 42.005 40.893 -3% +21% *
Mallard 8.512 8.430 -1% +12% *
Gadwall 3.054 2.977 -3% +67% *
American wigeon 2.469 2.425 -2% -7% *
Green-winged teal 3.444 3.476 +1% +78% *
Blue-winged teal 7.384 6.329 -14% +36% *
Northern shoveler 4.376 4.057 -7% +76% *
Northern pintail 3.225 3.509 +9% -13% *
Redhead 1.004 1.064 +2% +63% *
Canvasback 0.664 0.585 -12% +3% *
Scaup 4.172 4.244 +2% -16% *

*indicates significant differences

Weather during the survey period included average to below-average moisture and a mild winter and early spring across the entire traditional and eastern survey areas. Conditions across the Canadian prairies were similar to 2009. Portions of southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba improved, but a large area along the Alberta and Saskatchewan border remained dry, and moisture levels in portions of Manitoba declined from last year.

The 2010 estimate of ponds in Prairie Canada was 3.7 million, similar to last year’s 3.6 million and the 1955–2009 average of 3.4 million. The 2010 pond estimate for the northcentral U.S. was 2.9 million, the same as last year's estimate and 87 percent above the long-term average. Fall and winter precipitation in the eastern Dakotas generally improved the good habitat conditions already present.

The annual survey guides the USFWS waterfowl conservation programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The agency works in partnership with state biologists from the four flyways — the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central (which includes Kansas) and Pacific — to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates, and bag limits.

If these breeding populations have a good nesting season, it could spell great fall duck hunting in Kansas, which rests in the middle of the Central Flyway. For detailed information, the entire “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2010” report can be downloaded from the USFWS website, .