Duck numbers overall remain strong this year, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The agency today released its report on 2013 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, based on surveys conducted in May and early June.
Total populations were estimated at 45.6 million breeding ducks in the surveyed area. This estimate represents a 6 percent decrease from last year’s estimate of 48.6 million birds, and is 33 percent above the 1955-2012 long-term average.
“This spring saw abundant moisture in much of the heart of North America’s most important duck breeding areas,” said Ducks Unlimited chief scientist Dale Humburg in a statement after the announcement. “That bodes well for duck breeding success this summer and hopefully for hunting this fall. But we remain concerned with continuing loss of nesting habitat in these areas.”
Of the 10 species of ducks surveyed, seven were similar to last year’s estimates, including mallards, according to Ducks Unlimited. Scaup and blue-winged teal were significantly below last year’s estimates. American wigeon were 23 percent above last year. Mallards, similar in number to 2012, are 36 percent above the long-term average. Two species — northern pintail and scaup — remained below their long-term average and North American Waterfowl Management Plan goals.