Despite a record late ice-out this year, Minnesota’s breeding duck populations improved about 24 percent from last year, according to the Department of Natural Resources annual spring waterfowl survey.
The state’s estimated breeding duck population was 683,000 this year, compared with last year’s estimate of 469,000. This year’s estimate is 10 percent above the long-term average of 620,000 breeding ducks, DNR officials said.
This year’s mallard breeding population was estimated at 293,000, 30 percent above last year’s estimate of 225,000 breeding mallards, 14 percent above the recent 10-year average and 30 percent above the long-term average.
The combined populations of other ducks, such as wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads was 246,000, This was 82 percent higher than last year and 39 percent above the long-term average.
This year’s Canada goose population was estimated at 250,000, compared to last year’s estimate of 416,000. The lower estimate could have been the result of the spring weather conditions that may have affected goose distribution and abundance in the state, said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist.
During the past 10 years, the Canada goose population’s average has ranged from 275,000 to 350,000.
Also, the DNR announced Monday that Minnesota will hold its first August Canada goose season from Aug. 10 to Aug. 25.
“The state’s Canada goose population is very high and exceeds our statewide goal,” Cordts said.
Hunting in the August season will be restricted to an intensive harvest zone in west-central Minnesota. The daily bag limit will be 10 Canada geese with no possession limit.
The DNR will announce details of fall waterfowl seasons, including the September Canada goose hunt, in early August.