JACKSON- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service recently completed their annual waterfowl population surveys on the breeding grounds to monitor waterfowl populations and to help set hunting season frameworks. Overall, North American breeding waterfowl populations increased 7 percent from 2011 to just over 48 million birds.
Population estimates for eight of the ten surveyed duck species increased this year. Mallard numbers increased 15 percent from last year to 10.6 million birds. Scaup and green-winged teal populations showed the greatest increases (21 percent and 20 percent, respectively). Gadwall, American widgeon, and canvasback populations increased only slightly. Northern pintail (-22 percent) and redhead (-6 percent) were the only species that demonstrated a decrease in numbers.
Even with increases in the breeding population, it is important to note that the 2012 May pond count decreased 32 percent to 5.5 million ponds. Even with this decrease, pond numbers still remain above the long-term average. "Last year's May pond counts were very high, and it appears our carry-over from last year's duck production was very good. Reports of high breeding populations are always exciting to hunters, but it will be interesting to see if this year's hunting season improves for Mississippi" said Houston Havens, Waterfowl Program Biologist for the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP). Many factors contribute to a good hunting season for Mississippi's duck hunters, with fall and winter weather conditions playing the key role in the duck migration.
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