The preliminary estimate of total ducks from the 2008 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey was just over 37 million, which is a nine percent decline from last years estimate, but still 11 percent greater than the 1955-2007 average. In the U.S. and Canadian prairies, population estimates of many species declined; while populations increased in the boreal forest to the north, likely reflecting in part those birds that overflew the prairies because of drier habitat conditions there.
The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind in the world, samples two million square miles across the north-central and northeastern United States, south-central, eastern, and northern Canada, and Alaska. The survey estimates the number of ducks on the continents most important nesting grounds.
Overall, habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl in 2008 were generally similar to or somewhat worse than to conditions in 2007. The total pond estimate (Prairie Canada and United States combined) was 4.4 million ponds. This was 37 percent below last years estimate of 7.0 million ponds and 10 percent below than the long-term average of 4.9 million ponds.
The annual survey guides the Service?s waterfowl conservation programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Service works in partnership with state biologists from the four flyways - the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central and Pacific - to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates, and bag limits.
Highlights from the survey in the north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska (the traditional survey area) include:
Population estimates for American black ducks, ring-necked ducks, American wigeon, bufflehead, goldeneyes, and mergansers surveyed in eastern North America were similar to last year as well as their 1990-2007 averages.
This preliminary report does not include estimates from surveys conducted by State or Provincial agencies. The entire 2008 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report can be downloaded from the Services Web site at " target="_blankwww.fws.gov.