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Record number of ducks this year

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has just released the 2012 “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations” report and estimates waterfowl production in North America’s duck factory is at a record high.  This year’s  estimate of 48.6 million is significantly higher than the 45.6 million birds estimated last year and 43 percent above the long-term average.  A good number of those ducks will come down the Central Flyway through Oklahoma this fall.

The good news– more ducks.  The bad news- less breeding habitat.  Habitat conditions observed across the survey areas during the survey were characterized by average to below-average moisture, especially in the southern portions; due primarily to a mild winter and an early spring.

Photo by L. Dillon.

The 2012 Survey’s estimate of ponds for the north-central U.S. was 1.7 million, which was 49 percent below the 2011 estimate of 3.2 million, and similar to the long-term average. Significant decreases in wetland numbers and conditions occurred in the U.S. Prairies during 2012.  Nearly all of the north-central U.S. habitat was rated as good to excellent in 2011; however, only the habitat in the coteau region of North and South Dakota was rated as good in 2012, and no areas were rated as excellent habitat this year.  Drastic wetland declines in western South Dakota and Montana resulted in mostly poor to fair habitat conditions.

The entire “Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2012” report can be downloaded from the Service’s Web site at  http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds

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