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2009 waterfowl survey indicates increase in many duck species

7/7/2009

The preliminary estimate of total ducks from the 2009 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey was 42 million, which is 13 percent greater than last year's estimate and 25 percent greater than the 1955-2008 average, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today.

The Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey samples more than two million square miles of waterfowl habitat 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 continent's primary nesting grounds.

Overall, habitat conditions for breeding waterfowl in 2009 were better than conditions in 2008. The total pond estimate (Prairie Canada and United States combined) was 6.4 million. This was 45 percent above last year's estimate of 4.4 million ponds and 31 percent above 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:

• The estimated mallard population is 8.5 million birds, a 10 percent increase over last year's estimate of 7.7 million birds and 13 percent above the long-term average.
• The estimated population of 3.1 million gadwall is similar to last year's estimate and 73 percent above the long-term average.
• At 7.4 million, the estimated population size of blue-winged teal is the second highest on record, while green-winged teal numbers were at an all-time high of 3.4 million. Estimates for both species are well above their long-term averages (60 percent and 79 percent, respectively).
• The 3.2 million estimate for northern pintails is 23 percent more than last year but 20 percent below the long-term average.
• The estimated number of one million redheads is similar to last year and is 62 percent above the long-term average.
• The canvasback estimate of 662,000 is 35 percent more than last year's estimate and similar to the long-term average.
• The estimated abundance of northern shovelers (4.4 million) is 25 percent more than last year and 92 percent above the long-term average.
• The scaup (lesser and greater combined), estimate of 4.2 million, is 12 percent greater than last year but 18 percent below the long-term average.

Population estimates for American black ducks, ring-necked ducks, American wigeon, bufflehead, goldeneyes, and mergansers surveyed in eastern North America are similar to last year as well as their 1990-2008 averages.

This preliminary report does not include estimates from surveys conducted by State or Provincial agencies. The entire Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2009 report can be downloaded from the Service's Web site at http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.