News Release

July 12, 2013

2013 Duck Breeding Population Estimates Released

Media Contacts:
Laury Parramore, 703/358-2541
Alicia F. King, 571/214-3117

Duck populations are still strong, and pond numbers are up
 
Duck populations are strong, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service 2013 Report on Trends in Duck Breeding Populations. The preliminary estimate of total duck populations from the traditional survey area (north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska) is 45.6 million birds. This estimate represents a 6 percent decrease from last year’s estimate of 48.6 million birds but is still 33 percent above the long-term average. The total duck estimate excludes scoters, eiders, long-tailed ducks, mergansers and wood ducks.
 
The report also notes:

Despite a delayed spring throughout most of the traditional survey area, habitat conditions during the 2013 survey were generally improved or similar to last year due to above-average precipitation. Most of the Canadian portions of the traditional survey area were rated as good to excellent, in contrast to 2012 where drier conditions existed across northern Alberta and Saskatchewan.  Although the U.S. prairies received record snowfall in April, habitat conditions were still rated only fair to poor, similar to last year. The total pond estimate (prairie Canada and the north-central United States combined) is 6.9 million, 24 percent higher than the 2012 estimate of 5.5 million ponds and 35 percent above the long-term average.
 
In the eastern survey area -- eastern Ontario, Quebec, the Maritime Provinces and Maine -- estimated mallard abundance is 500,000 birds. The black duck estimate is 622,000. Habitat conditions across most of the eastern survey area generally were good with the exception of Maine and the southern Maritimes, which were rated only as fair.
 
The surveys are conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Services’ Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, sampling more than 2 million square miles of waterfowl habitat across Alaska, the north-central and northeastern United States and south-central, eastern and northern Canada. Information is not included from surveys conducted by state or provincial agencies.
 
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.
 
For more information about the surveyed areas, the survey methodology and the estimates, the Trends Report in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2013 report can be downloaded from the Service's Web site at www.fws.gov/migratorybirds.