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Survey of Duck Populations (fwd)




---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 08 Jul 97 17:07:22 -0700
From: rich_greenwood@mail.fws.gov
Subject: Survey of Duck Populations

============================================================

ANNUAL SURVEY FINDS DUCK BREEDING
POPULATIONS ROSE SHARPLY THIS SPRING



The number of breeding ducks rose 13 percent to 42.6 million, according to 
the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service's annual breeding duck survey of key nesting areas.
This marks the highest
level since the survey began in 1955.

Breeding populations of mallards climbed 25 percent to 9.9 million, and two
species that
have been in decline in recent years, American wigeon and northern pintail,
rebounded in 1997.
Wigeon was up 37 percent to 3.1 million while pintail rose 30 percent to
3.6 million. However,
despite the improvements in pintail numbers, the 1997 level was still 19
percent below the long-
term average.

"We continue to have favorable weather conditions that, combined with the 
millions of
acres of wetlands restored in the past decade, have boosted duck
populations," said the Service's
Acting Director John Rogers. "We should, however, keep in mind that these
numbers are coming
after an unusually long stretch of favorable weather conditions, and that
we need to press on in
our conservation efforts in preparation for another dry cycle."

"Most species are currently above the numerical goals of the North American
Waterfowl
Management Plan, but those goals are based upon average environmental
conditions. The four to
five years of above-average pond numbers in the survey area is
unprecedented. We clearly are
experiencing above average conditions," Rogers said.

The breeding duck survey samples 1.3 million square miles across the 
north-central
United States, western and northern Canada, and Alaska and estimates the
approximate numbers
of ducks in important breeding areas.

Among other duck species, the breeding population of gadwalls rose 31 
percent to 3.9
million and northern shovelers were up 19 percent to 4.1 million.

The numbers of canvasback, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, redheads 
and scaup
remained similar to last year. The Service is concerned about the continued
lack of improvement
in scaup, which are 25 percent below long-term averages.

Results in the eastern survey area show that duck breeding populations were
similar to
1996. The recently developed survey includes the eastern provinces and
northeastern states and is
a part of the Service's efforts to expand the surveys outside the
traditional area.

"We shouldn't automatically assume that increases in duck populations will 
lead to more
success in the field for hunters," Rogers said. "A lot of other factors
influence hunting success
including weather and the amount of available habitat."

Harvest survey results show that 1996 was even better than 1995. 
Nationally, the number
of ducks harvested was 13.9 million in 1996. This compares with 12.9
million in 1995, a 7
percent increase. For mallards, hunters harvested 4.9 million ducks
compared with 4.4 million in
1995.

Goose harvest also was up. Last year, hunters took 2.9 million geese, 
compared with 2.4
million in 1995.

"We have come a long way since 1990 when drought, agricultural practices 
and predation
reduced the breeding population to one of the lowest on record at 25.1
million," Rogers said.
"Since then, the breeding population has grown by nearly 70 percent."

Hunting success has increased as well. In 1990, hunters harvested 6.2 
million ducks, or an
average of 5.5 per hunter. Last year, hunters more than doubled that
harvest to 13.9 million
ducks, or 10 per hunter.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers or participates in a number 
of programs
to conserve and restore waterfowl habitat. For example, the North American
Waterfowl
Management Plan, an international partnership effort, has protected,
restored, or enhanced more
than 2.5 million acres of wetland habitat since 1986.

Provisions of the Farm Bill such as the Conservation Reserve Program and 
the Wetland
Reserve Program have provided significant acreage of wildlife habitat in
the United States in
recent years  The Swampbuster provision of the Farm Bill and the wetland
protection provisions
of the Clean Water Act also have helped conserve waterfowl habitat. And
sportsmen and
conservation organizations such as Ducks Unlimited have conserved and
restored millions of
acres of prime habitat.

June 24, 1997                                 Hugh Vickery 202-208-1456 


============================================================ 
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