Waterfowl Breeding Survey 2015 – Ducks Up, Ponds down.


Photo Credit – USFWS


Despite the low turn out of breeding pairs in U.S. Prairie Pothole Region, the bumper crop of waterfowl from 2014 returned to Canada in record numbers.   The 2015 survey results report an all-time record high 49.5 breeding ducks – 43% above the long-term average.

Hello folks, and, as always, welcome to Waterfowler.com.

Despite the mild winter, early spring and lack of precipitation across the waterfowl breeding range, pond counts of 6.3 million were only 12% below the 2014 survey totals. The U.S Prairie Pothole Region was hardest hit by the drier conditions but spring rains have recharged many of the areas since breeding waterfowl passed the area.

In short, waterfowl hunters will be treated to another outstanding year of waterfowl numbers. Pintail and scaup numbers remain below the long-term average and continue to be a concern.

2015 Survey Results By Species:

Mallards: 11.6 million and 51% above the long-term average.

Gadwall: 3.8 million and 100% above the long-term average.

American Wigeon: 3.0 million and 17% above the long-term average.

Green-winged Teal: 4.1 million and 98% above the long-term average.

Blue-winged Teal: 8.5 million and 73% above the long-term average.

Northern Shovelers: 4.4 million and 75% above the long-term average.

Northern Pintails: 3.0 million and 24% below the long-term average.

Redheads: 1.2 million and 71% above the long-term average.

Canvasbacks: 0.76 million and 30% above the long-term average.

Scaup: 4.4 million and 13% below the long-term average.

Black Ducks: (Eastern Survey Area): 541,000 and 13% below the long-term average.

With the first early waterfowl seasons less than two months away, it’s never two soon to begin planning your epic waterfowl adventures for 2015.

Click here to download the detailed breeding survey from FLYWAYS.US

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Waterfowl Habitat Update – June 1, 2015

N723 beached for a night's stay in a lodge. Photo Courtesty of USFWS, Nick Wirwa

N723 beached for a night’s stay in a lodge. Photo Courtesty of USFWS, Nick Wirwa

The 60th annual spring Waterfowl Survey is nearing completion and habitat conditions vary greatly across the nesting region in North America at this time. Aerial and ground crews have experienced a number of weather delays this year and some crews are racing across flight transects to collect data.

Hello folks, and, as always, welcome to Waterfowler.com.

Drier conditions prevail across most of the breeding areas in the United States. The lack of snow that fueled a very fast snow goose migration did little to recharge wetlands in Montana or the Dakotas. The Coteau region and eastern North Dakota had much better conditions but waterfowl numbers are down on those areas and nesting pairs have traveled north to areas where habitat conditions are better. Survey crew condition to report that the number of drained wetlands continues to increase across the survey area at an alarming rate.

In Canada, conditions range from good to excellent in eastern parts of the country to fair in the southwestern areas. In Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec, conditions are similar to last year and production expected to be near normal.

Smaller wetlands are drier in Northern Manitoba and Saskatchewan but permanent wetlands remain good. Duck numbers appear to be better than normal and this is not unexpected because of dry conditions in the Dakotas. Southern Manitoba is reportedly similar to last year with duck numbers good in most areas and other areas reporting record numbers of waterfowl.

Southern Saskatchewan is slightly drier than last year but the bulk of wetlands remain full, or nearly full. In southern and central Alberta it is drier in the south but Parklands remain good with duck numbers high. In Northern Alberta and the Northwest territories, conditions are drier in the south and near normal in the north. Mallard, Pintail Shoveler and Widgeon numbers were up in the boreal region with sea duck numbers lower than normal.

In summary, duck production will see a slight bump in Canada this season due to poor habitat conditions in the United States. Duck numbers in North Dakota appear to be down 25% across the state and down 40% in South Dakota.

CRP enrollment continues to decline in the U.S. Prairie Pothole region. North Dakota alone has suffered a net loss of 1.6 million acres since 2007 and the Farm Bill capped enrollment at 24 million acres – down from 26.8 million acres in 2013 and the lowest since 1987.

A recent study by North Dakota Fish and Game found that 10,330 wetland basins will have a gas well within 110-yards of them by 2020. Which will significantly impact duck production, clutch-size, and duckling survival rates.

The crash of duck production in the U.S was not unexpected, as habitat conditions swing like a pendulum from poor to excellent. What is important to remember that during dry years it is easier to plow wetlands and in the future, when water returns, the wetland will not.

As politics become more partisan and volatile in our nation, one thing is clear the road to sound environmental policy that favors habitat protection, enhancement and good duck production will be extremely rocky – unless hell should freeze over and our elected officials spend more time searching for common ground that differences.

As we await the final publishing of the 2015 Waterfowl Habitat and Breeding Survey (which is usually released the first week of July), waterfowl hunters and can read detailed pilot and survey crew reports at FLYWAYS.US
Until our next update, cross your fingers for good duck production in the northern parts of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR).

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President Requests $1.6 Billion U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The President’s Fiscal Year 2016 discretionary budget request supports $1.6 billion in programs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an increase of $135.7 million over the 2015 enacted level to fund the agency’s high-priority needs. The budget also contains an additional $1.4 billion available under permanent appropriations, most of which will be provided directly to states for fish and wildlife restoration and conservation.

“Investing in the conservation of our wildlife and habitat resources results in myriad health and economic benefits to U.S. communities,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “Investing in the next American generation is also critical, so we are creating new ways to engage young audiences in outdoor experiences, both on wildlife refuges and partner lands. With 80 percent of the U.S. population currently residing in urban communities, helping urban dwellers to rediscover the outdoors is a priority for the Service.” Continue reading

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Kaumeyer Named Delta Waterfowl Board Chairman


BISMARCK, N.D. — Larry Kaumeyer has been named chairman of the board for Delta Waterfowl.

Kaumeyer, 52, a life-long waterfowl hunter from Edmonton, Alberta, has served on Delta’s Board of Directors since 2007.

Kaumeyer credits his father, Gerry, for igniting his passion for waterfowling as a young man.

“I absolutely love hunting ducks,” he said. “If I have a choice of doing anything in the outdoors, I will hunt ducks. I enjoy every aspect of being out there.”

The chief executive officer of Infracon Energy Services said he joined the board because he respected Delta’s long history of excellent waterfowl research and involvement in protecting hunters’ rights. Continue reading

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Wild Rice from Habitat Now


Wild Rice – © USFWS

We are getting our wild rice harvest in and it looks really good but it is going to be in very limited supply. Due to high water and other weather issues, wild rice seed production is about 1\3 of what it usually is. If you are interested in wild rice seed, we highly recommend to place an order soon to lock it in.

We are taking orders now and will start coordinating shipping with you in a week or two as we process the harvested wild rice.

“FALL ORDERS” will be available to ship in a week or two. Only people that have ponds that freeze over should order “fall” rice as it requires cold stratification to germinate. We will contact you to coordinate a shipping time…we will not ship without first confirming a date with you.

“SPRING ORDERS” will be shipped in the spring, but you can place your order now to secure your wild rice seed. People in southern warmer climates (ponds don’t freeze over) need to order SPRING rice…unless you want to order fall rice and try to cold stratify it yourself. If you do not secure your spring rice, we can not assure that we will have any left on inventory when spring comes. If you lock it in now, then we will store it over winter and cold stratify it for you so it is ready in the spring. Continue reading

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Service Proposes Liberal Waterfowl Hunting Season Frameworks

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The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) proposes liberal hunting season lengths and bag limits for the upcoming 2014-15 late waterfowl seasons. States will select their individual seasons from within the federal frameworks that establish the earliest beginning and latest ending dates and the maximum season length and bag limits. According to the Service’s 2014 Waterfowl Population Status Report, population estimates for most species of ducks remained strong for this breeding season.

The waterfowl hunting frameworks are set using annual results of cooperative population surveys, banding programs and harvest surveys that produce the largest data set on any wildlife species group in the world. They guide the Service’s waterfowl conservation programs and provide hunting opportunities while ensuring the long-term health of waterfowl populations. Continue reading

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Record Breeding Duck Count, Good Water Sets Stage for Strong Fall Flight


BISMARCK, N.D. — North America’s spring duck population is at a record level, and the birds returned to find a high number of ponds on the breeding grounds, according to the 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey released today.

The annual spring survey, which has been conducted jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service since 1955, puts the breeding duck population at 49.2 million, surpassing the previous high set in 2012 and 8 percent ahead of the 2013 estimate. Continue reading

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DU pleased NRCS providing innovative ways to conserve grasslands


Photo Credit – © USFWS

BISMARCK, N.D. – Feb. 15, 2014 – Ducks Unlimited applauds USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) increasing its efforts to work with landowners in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) to conserve grasslands and wetlands. Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Robert Bonnie announced today that NRCS is committing up to $35 million over the next three years for prairie conservation in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa.

“We are pleased to see NRCS renewing its commitment to grassland and wetland conservation in the PPR, which is so critical to waterfowl production,” said DU CEO Dale Hall. “We’re seeing unprecedented pressures to convert native prairie and drain wetlands. We need to look for new ways to make conservation programs more economically competitive and attractive to landowners.”    Continue reading

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