Migration Update – May 22, 2012

With portions of the spring waterfowl survey complete the initial observations reported by the field and aerial crews vary greatly from region to region. As expected, the pond counts will be lower in most areas but breeding pairs appear to be higher than last year in a number of zones. Whether the increases are due to the abundance of birds produced last year or shifts in breeding pairs to areas with favorable the overall data collected thus far will likely result in overall breeding pairs down slightly from last year but better than expected.

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

If you haven’t been following the survey crew reports on FLYWAYS.US, shame on you. We simply cannot provide enough gratitude, support and promotion for the survey crews that not only work hard to collect the data used to determine the duck seasons each year but take time to provide reports on their findings throughout the survey season. In addition to the a summary of their observations, the pilots and ground crews post images of their travels and truly put you in the cockpit and in touch with the topic of duck production.

Pilot reports over the past few weeks indicate that conditions in eastern Saskatchewan are good to excellent with the Parklands much drier than last year. In southern Alberta, duck numbers are up over last year with pond counts down. Conditions in Maine and Atlantic Canada are reported as good and with southwestern Manitoba drier conditions than last year.

Of course, wetlands are only one factor in duck production and grasslands play a vital roll in keeping populations healthy and growing. Extremely wet years, like those experienced in 2011 result in additional acreage that cannot be tilled but ultimately, as will happen this year, find their way back under the plow. As grain prices continue to climb, these marginal lands will be farmed when conditions allow. Waterfowler.com reminds our readers to continue their support for grassland initiatives and participate in helping drive political decisions that support duck production. In a world of ever-decreasing government budgets and program cuts it is up to the waterfowl community to insure sensible funding and long protections.

Waterfowler.com would like to remind our readers that spring and summer fishing seasons are a great way to scout new hunting areas for the coming season. Take time to explore new areas, visit new launch sites, map potential hunting spots and investigate any site-specific regulations that would apply to hunting in these new locations. While hunters are often aware of state and national hunting areas, special county and municipal managed lands are often overlooked or discovered too late to apply for special permit drawings that occur during June and July. Be sure to visit your county conservation district offices and have a conversation with local biologists and conservations officers about their managed lands.

Until our next report, be sure to visit FLYWAYS.US for updates on detailed habitat conditions and news.

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