According to the recent spring breeding duck survey conducted
annually by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, the state is
host to a record number of breeding mallards this year.
The number of breeding mallards is up 42 percent from 2000, and
all duck numbers are following that trend. Pintails are up 70
percent, which is great news; shovelers are up 49 percent; scaup
are up 47 percent; and canvasbacks are up 8 percent. The total
overall increase for all ducks is 14 percent over last year.
It was the 54th annual spring survey, and was conducted May
14-19. The count showed an index of almost 4.3 million birds, 129
percent above the 1948-2000 average. It is the second highest duck
index on record, compared to last year’s index that was the fifth
highest recorded. All species were well above the 1948-2000 mean,
and the mallard index exceeded the previous high in 1997 by 24
The 2001 water index increased 65 percent from 2000, and was 51
percent above the 1948-2000 average. “This spring’s water index was
the eighth highest since 1948,” said Mike Johnson, waterfowl
biologist for the N.D. Game and Fish Department. “A significant
portion of the increase in water was in temporary and seasonal
wetlands in the eastern part of the state.”
Reports indicate that South Dakota has good duck numbers and
Minnesota remains stable. The prairies of Saskatchewan and Alberta
are reported to be very dry, while the prairie/parklands may show
more normal water conditions, Johnson said.
What do all these numbers mean? Well, if the rain doesn’t slow
down this summer, duck hunters in North Dakota will have lots of
sloughs where they can hunt a large number of ducks. The outlook
couldn’t be much brighter out here.
The results of Montana’s 2001 big game lottery are available
on-line, and there are some interesting statistics coming out of
the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. There were 25,000
applications for 11,500 general big-game combination licenses,
which entitles the holder to an elk and a deer, game birds, and
fishing. It was even tougher to draw one of the 2,300 deer
combination licenses, because there were 10,000 applicants.
This was also the first year of Montana’s new “preference point”
system. Instead of true preference you actually get only a bonus
point, which means your name goes in the lottery one time for each
point. To get that point you had to pay $20 this year. There were
12,956 hunters who did so, which means the new system brought in an
additional $260,000 to FWP coffers. Isn’t that special.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department reports that due to a
severe drought in 2000, the antelope population took a hit. Because
of the losses there will be 9,500 fewer antelope permits issued
this year. That is expected to reduce expected revenues by
In states like Wyoming and North Dakota, where game and fish
departments receive no state tax revenue, they are highly dependent
on license sales for their budget. Bad winters or poor reproduction
on any game species means less revenue. Good conditions, and high
permit allocations, mean prosperity.
That may not be an ideal scenario, but that’s the way