Preliminary 2014 duck population and pond estimates from the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey are now available. The estimate of 49.2 million breeding ducks was 8% higher than last year’s estimate of 45.6 million, and 43% above the long-term average. The total pond estimate was 7.2 million, similar to last year’s estimate of 6.9 million and 40% above the long-term average of 5.1 million. Spring was delayed even later than last year across most of the survey area. Habitat conditions during the survey were mostly improved or similar to last year, due to average to above-average annual precipitation. The exceptions were west-central Alberta and east of James Bay in Quebec. Note: Estimates sometimes change between the preliminary numbers and final results.
Sales for the 2014-2015 Federal Duck Stamp and Junior Duck Stamp began on Friday, June 27, 2013 at 10 a.m. with a special event hosted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Bass Pro Shops at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C., where waterfowl hunters, birders, stamp collectors, conservationists and outdoor recreationists lined up to be among the first to buy the nation’s most unique and successful conservation stamp. The new stamps can be purchased online, at many sporting goods and retail stores, and at some post offices and national wildlife refuges. Since 1934, the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp ("Duck Stamp") has provided more than $850 million, conserving over 6 million acres of crucial habitat throughout the United States and its territories.
Caribou clogging the runway and sunrise at 3:30 were a couple of the unique situations veteran pilot biologist Steve Earsom had to prepare for when he traveled from his usual spring gig conducting the 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey in Ontario to the Ungava Peninsula to fly a Canada Goose survey there. While still unofficial, his first blush assessment is that that the goose numbers for the eastern side seem very similar to the data from 2012 (a relatively good year) and the habitat throughout the peninsula was good, with plenty of water. His adventures during the survey are captured in words and images in our pilot biologist flight logs.
The 2014 Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has begun, and the initial view from 150 feet in the air above eastern South Dakota is a good one. The first of a dozen crews stationed throughout Canada and the northern United States took off May 4 out of Pierre, South Dakota and recent rains reveal a stark contrast to last years dry conditions. The other air crews and their associated ground crews are expected to begin surveying their areas soon, and as in the past you can look to our Pilot Biologist Reports for daily updates and images revealing what they are observing.
A cooperative effort of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the Canadian Wildlife Service, and state, provincial, and tribal agencies, this survey currently covers more than 2.1 million square miles of the northern United States and Canada, and includes most of the primary duck nesting areas in North America.