Baton Rouge, La. (AP) – Extra-wet conditions in the Dakotas and
Montana resulted in a record-setting year for waterfowl in the
United States and the projections for another 60-day duck season
for Louisiana hunters.
The verdant northern U.S. states helped offset average-to-below
average nesting conditions in Canadian prairielands and push the
2009 duck breeding populations to a 13 percent increase over 2008,
according to the survey conducted in May by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service.
The survey’s mallard numbers show an increase from 7.724 million
on the nesting grounds in 2008 to 8.512 million earlier this year.
The USFWS uses the mallard count to set season frameworks for all
U.S. waterfowl hunters. The 8 million-plus mallard count combined
with the “pond count” an increase of 45 percent over last year –
triggers a “liberal” season, which for Mississippi Flyway states
like Louisiana means a 60-day season.
Louisiana’s season dates and daily bag limits for its East and
West Waterfowl Hunting zones will be revealed during the Aug. 6
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission meeting in Baton
The oddity in May’s survey is that the northern U.S. appears to
have more breeding ducks than the Canadian pothole regions.
Potholes in the prairielands, especially ones filled with water,
provide the ponds and the cover breeding ducks need for nesting and
for rearing ducklings.
LSU wildlife professor Frank Rohwer is Scientific Director for
Delta Waterfowl and has spent most of this summer in the
“If you would have told me 10 years ago we’d have twice as many
pintails nesting on the U.S. side of the breeding grounds as
Canadian prairie, I would have laughed in your face,” Rohwer said,
after reviewing the latest survey data.
The numbers show that 1.4 million pintails stopped in the
northern U.S. to nest this year compared with an estimated count of
664,000 in the Canadian prairie pothole regions.
Rohwer said the bluewing teal breakdown were more skewed to the
U.S. states: 4.5 million bluewings in the Dakotas and eastern
Montana to 2.5 million in Canada.
He said the highest percentage of mallards since the survey
began in 1955 were nesting in the United States.
The estimated total of breeding ducks jumped to 42.005 million
this year compared with 37.276 million in 2008. It tops the 41.172
million estimated in 2007’s survey.
The pond count was 6.434 million – it was 4.431 million in 2008
– and is 31 percent higher than the survey’s long-term numbers.