The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service recently completed their annual waterfowl population surveys on the breeding grounds to monitor waterfowl populations and to help set hunting season frameworks. Overall, North American breeding waterfowl populations estimates declined 6 percent from 2012 to just under 46 million birds, which is still 33 percent above the long-term average.
Population estimates for eight of the ten surveyed duck species increased or were at similar levels to last year. Mallard numbers were similar to last year at 10.4 million birds. Gadwall, green-winged teal, and northern pintail were also similar to last year’s estimates (3.3, 3.1, and 3.3 million respectively). American wigeon populations showed the greatest increase (23 percent). Blue-winged teal (-16 percent) and scaup (-20 percent) were the only species that demonstrated a noticeable decrease in numbers; however, blue-winged teal remain well above the long-term average. “Although some species may have experienced declines from 2012, little will change from a hunter’s perspective. Most species did not significantly change in numbers up or down,” said James Callicutt, Waterfowl Program Biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP).
The 2013 May pond count increased 24 percent to 6.9 million ponds. “It’s good news that the wetland conditions were good this year, but grassland nesting habitat, which has been declining both in the United States and Canada, is extremely important, too,” said Houston Havens, Waterfowl Program Leader for the MDWFP. Many factors contribute to a good hunting season for Mississippi’s duck hunters, with fall and winter weather conditions playing the key role in the duck migration.
For more information regarding waterfowl in Mississippi, visit our website at www.mdwfp.com/waterfowl or call us at (601) 432-2199. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/mdwfp or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MDWFPonline.
Logo courtesy Mississippi DWFP