2016 Waterfowl Status Report Released
Final results of the 2016 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. Results indicate that total duck populations from the traditional survey area (north-central United States, south-central and northern Canada, and Alaska) are estimated to be 48.4 million birds. This estimate is similar to last year’s estimate of 49.5 million birds and is 38 percent above the long-term average.
Habitat conditions generally declined compared to previous years in the U.S. and Canadian prairie portion of the traditional survey area, due to below-average annual precipitation and higher than normal winter and spring temperatures. The total (Canada and US combined) pond estimate was 5.0 million, 21% below last year’s estimate, and similar to the long-term average of 5.2 million.
Although most migratory game bird populations remain abundant, when and where birds will be encountered depends on many factors. Food availability, habitat and weather conditions, and other factors all influence local bird abundance, distribution, behavior and ultimately, hunter success. The results of the survey will be used to set framework waterfowl seasons for 2017-18. The new regulatory process resulted from the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (1.2MB), published by the Service in 2013. More details about the new process and its impacts were published earlier this year.
For more information about surveyed areas, survey methodologies, habitat conditions, and estimates, see the Waterfowl Population Status 2016 report. Visit flyways.us for pilot biologist’s flight blogs.