Minnesota DNR: breeding duck numbers up
St. Paul — Population counts showed good results for several species of ducks that nest in Minnesota, according to the results of the annual DNR spring waterfowl surveys.
“Mallard, blue-winged teal, and Canada goose counts were all improved from last year,” said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist. “The survey is designed for mallards, and our breeding mallard population remains above its long-term average.”
This year’s mallard breeding population was estimated at 295,000, which is 38 percent above last year’s estimate of 214,000 breeding mallards and 30 percent above the long-term average measured each year since 1968.
The blue-winged teal population is 191,000 this year, 20 percent above last year’s estimate and 10 percent below the long-term average.
The combined populations of other ducks, such as ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks, and redheads, is 207,000, which is 21 percent lower than last year and 15 percent above the long-term average.
The estimate of total breeding duck abundance (excluding scaup) is 693,000, which is 9 percent higher than last year and 12 percent above the long-term average.
The estimated number of wetlands was 1 percent lower than last year and 4 percent above the long-term average. Wetland numbers can vary greatly based on annual precipitation.
The survey is used to estimate the number of breeding ducks or breeding geese that nest in the state rather than simply migrate through. In addition to the counts by the DNR, the continental waterfowl population estimates will be released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service later this summer.
This year’s Canada goose population was estimated at 162,000 geese, similar to last year’s estimate of 152,000 geese and 2 percent above the long-term average.
“We had very unusual weather conditions this spring, with the mid-April blizzard and record-late ice-outs. April temperatures were the third-coldest on record, and May temperatures were the fourth-warmest on record,” Cordts said.
“This likely impacted geese more than ducks, with an extremely late, and probably reduced, goose hatch,” he said.
The 2018 Minnesota waterfowl report is available at mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl