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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service survey counts more ducks in 2009

From the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks

-- The preliminary estimate of total ducks from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (USFWS) 2009 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey was 42 million, which is 13 percent greater than last year's estimate and 25 percent greater than the 1955-2008 average. The promising outlook could mean a continuation of liberal duck seasons.

The survey samples more than 2 million square miles of waterfowl habitat across the north central and northeastern United States, as well as south central, eastern, and northern Canada and Alaska. The survey estimates the number of ducks on the continent's primary nesting grounds.

The annual survey guides USFWS waterfowl conservation programs under authority of the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act, including frameworks for states to set waterfowl seasons. USFWS works in partnership with state biologists from the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways to establish regulatory frameworks for waterfowl hunting season lengths, dates, and bag limits. Kansas is in the Central Flyway.

Highlights from the survey in the north central United States, south central and northern Canada  and Alaska include the following:

■  Estimated mallard population of 8.5 million birds, a 10 percent increase over last year and 13 percent above the long-term average;
■  Estimated population of 3.1 million gadwall, similar to last year and 73 percent above the long-term average;
■  Estimated 7.4 million blue-winged teal, the second highest on record, and green-winged teal numbers at an all-time high of 3.4 million;
■  Estimated 3.2 million northern pintails, 23 percent more than last year but still 20 percent below the long-term average;
■  Estimated one million redheads, similar to last year and 62 percent above the long-term average.
■  Estimated 662,000 canvasback, 35 percent more than last year and similar to the long-term average;
■  Estimated 4.4 million northern shovelers, 25 percent more than last year and 92 percent above the long-term average;
■  Estimated 4.2 million scaup (lesser and greater combined), 12 percent more than last year but 18 percent below the long-term average; and
■  Estimated American black ducks, ring-necked ducks, American wigeon, bufflehead, goldeneyes, and mergansers numbers surveyed in eastern North America are similar to last year as well as their 1990-2008 averages.

The entire report -- Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2009-can be downloaded from the USFWS website,

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