With fall duck hunting seasons just around the corner, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2016 continental duck population estimates [PDF] are now available.
These estimates are the result of one of the largest bird surveys in the world conducted annually throughout North America. In years past, they were used to set waterfowl seasons for the current year. However, since the USFWS changed its regulatory timeline, 2016 estimates will be used to set the 2017 waterfowl season structure.
The total 2016 duck population estimate is down slightly at 48.4 million, but still 38 percent above the long term average. Mallards and green-winged teal population estimates are at record highs — 11.8 million and 4.3 million, respectively. Continental blue-winged teal estimates are at 6.7 million, which is lower than 2015 but still well above the long-term average.
“The habitat was drier this year across much of the breeding grounds, and that is likely the reason for a slight drop in numbers,” said Taylor Finger, Department of Natural Resources assistant migratory bird ecologist. “That being said, Wisconsin remains at or near record numbers for many species, and hunters should expect another good year of hunting.”