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2002-2003 Waterfowl Harvest Down Slightly


July 31, 2003

Nick Throckmorton
, USFWS Public Affairs, 202/208-5636

More than 12.7 million ducks were harvested in the United States in the 2002, according to preliminary estimates compiled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This number is down eight percent from 13.9 million in 2001. Also in the 2002 season, hunters harvested nearly 3.4 million geese, down seven percent from 3.6 million from the previous year.

The Service recently released a report called, Harvest Information Program: Preliminary Estimates of Waterfowl Hunter Activity and Harvest during the 2001 and 2002 Hunting Seasons, estimating waterfowl hunting activity, success, and harvest by species.

"Despite dry habitat conditions and a warm winter in 2002 that may have contributed to a reduced harvest, it's encouraging that the total number of waterfowl hunting days remained strong," said Service Director Steve Williams. "We will continue to work with states and flyway councils to provide migratory bird hunting opportunities as part of our conservation mission."

Duck hunters spent about 7.6 million days in the field in the 2002 migratory waterfowl hunting season, down from 8.2 million days of duck hunting during the 2001 season. Hunters spent 4.7 million days hunting geese in 2002 compared to 4.6 million days in 2001.

In states in the Atlantic Flyway, more than 1.8 million ducks were harvested last season, up 9 percent from the 2001 season. The 797,000 geese harvested in 2002 was down 2 percent from 2001.

In states in the Mississippi Flyway, nearly 6 million ducks were harvested, down 10 percent from the 2001 season. The 1.2 million geese harvested was down 6 percent from 2001.

In states in the Central Flyway, hunters bagged nearly 2.6 million ducks last season. This is 21 percent fewer than the 2001 harvest of 3.2 million. The 979,000 geese harvested is down 14 percent from 2001.

In states in the Pacific Flyway, hunters harvested a total of nearly 2.3 million ducks, similar to the previous season's estimate. The number of geese harvested, nearly 363,000, was also similar to the previous year's harvest.

In Alaska, nearly 75,000 ducks were harvested, down 5 percent from the previous season. The goose harvest, at 6,000, fell 25 percent from the previous year.

Mallards were the most hunted duck in the United States, with more than 4.9 million birds harvested last season. Mallards were followed by green-winged teal at nearly 1.4 million birds, gadwall at nearly 1.3 million, wood duck at more than 1.2 million and blue-winged teal at about 750,000.

Canada geese were the most hunted goose in the United States, with nearly 2.5 million birds harvested last season. Canada geese were followed by snow geese at 550,000 and white-fronted geese at 219,000.

The Service generates the estimates contained in this report based on surveys of selected waterfowl hunters, through the cooperative State-Federal Harvest Information Program. These surveys allow state wildlife agencies and the Service to develop estimates of the number of all migratory birds harvested throughout the country, which helps the Service establish the next hunting season and maintain healthy waterfowl populations.

The entire report, Harvest Information Program: Preliminary Estimates of Waterfowl Hunter Activity and Harvest during the 2001 and 2002 Hunting Seasons, is available on the Service's web site at

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

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