Good news for duck hunters
A report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that shows an increase in breeding ducks in the northern U.S. and Canada is just one more piece of news that points to a good season for duck hunters this fall.
The USFWS says that its annual survey of breeding waterfowl revealed 49.2 million birds, an eight-percent increase from 2013. The number is also 43 percent higher than the long-term average, which dates back to 1955. With more ducks and more places to hunt them – thanks to increased water levels in Great Lakes marshes – it’s a good year to be a duck hunter.
Sweetening the stew pot even further, Michigan hunters are able to hunt teal in an early season that will coincide with the first week of the early honker season. Hunters who venture afield for teal will likely find more of those birds around, too.
The annual fed “traditional” survey that is conducted in the spring covers areas in the prairie pothole region of both Canada and the northern U.S., the boreal forest of Canada, and zones in northern Ontario and far northwest Canada, extending into Alaska. It showed increases in almost all species except for pintails and canvasback, although cans still appear to be above their long term average.
Bluebills were up 11 percent but still well below their historical average. Breeding mallards and green-winged teal, two of the more common birds in hunters’ bags, were up 5 and 13 percent, respectively. Blue-winged teal, which typically migrate through Michigan ahead of duck season, are up 10 percent over last year and 75 percent over their long term average,
For Michigan duck hunters, an increase in ducks in the traditional survey area does not always translate into more ducks in their decoys come fall, especially with mallards, many of which are produced locally. But with better conditions in the state’s wetlands and the prospect of more ducks migrating south, you can’t blame waterfowlers for being optimistic when thinking about the coming season.