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2019 Waterfowl Status Report Released

By Larry Dean
Regional Office - External Affairs

The 2019 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey Report-- including the most current breeding population information available for waterfowl in North America--is now available. This report summarizes the most recent information about the status of North American waterfowl populations and their habitats to facilitate the development of harvest regulations. The annual status of these populations is monitored and assessed through abundance and harvest surveys. This report details abundance estimates; harvest survey results are discussed in separate reports. The data and analyses were those most currently available when this report was written. Future analyses may yield slightly different results as databases are updated and new analytical procedures become available.

In general, habitat conditions during the 2019 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS) were similar to or declined relative to 2018, with a few exceptions. Much of the Canadian prairies experienced below-average precipitation from fall 2018 through spring 2019. Fall and winter temperatures were mainly below average. Southern Alberta and Saskatchewan had a warm spell in December 2018 through January 2019 but February 2019 was brutally cold across all of the Canadian prairies. Spring temperatures were average to slightly below average. The U.S. prairies experienced average to above-average precipitation over most of the region. Habitat conditions were generally drier near the North Dakota border with Canada.

Conditions in much of the eastern survey area remained similar or improved relative to 2018. The region experienced mainly average to above-average precipitation in the south and Maritimes but below-average precipitation across the northern areas since September 2018. The entire region tended to have a cool spring. Spring phenology and ice-out was generally normal but substantially delayed in northern Quebec and Labrador. Conditions for waterfowl production were good to excellent in the south and poorer farther north. Spring phenology was earlier than average across much of Alaska and the eastern Arctic and Subarctic, whereas spring snow and ice cover in the central and western Arctic and Subarctic were generally comparable to last year.

The total pond estimates for 2019 are similar to last year. The 2019 estimate of ponds in Prairie Canada was 22% lower but theĀ  estimate for the northcentral U.S. was 36% higher than the 2018 estimate. Spring phenology and timing of ice-out was normal or slightly delayed in places within the traditional survey area. Alaska experienced above-average temperatures and below to above average precipitation in a northward gradient. The boreal forest experienced generally below-average precipitation and temperatures but December 2018 was warmer than average. Habitat quality generally declined across the survey area compared to last year, with the exception of most of the Dakotas and Montana which continued to improve.

Overall habitat quality remained fair to good over a large portion of the traditional survey area and should lead to average waterfowl production this year, however dry areas, particularly in the Canadian prairies, have expanded since 2018.

Last updated: June 8, 2020