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Tennessee Duck Hunting Report
RECORD DUCK NUMBERS
Good news came last week in the form of a record breeding duck count on
the breeding grounds of North America. Annual breeding population survey
estimates 49.5 million ducks.
Here’s a news release from Delta Waterfowl with details: North
America’s spring duck population is at a record high, but returning
birds initially found a lower pond count in key areas of the breeding
grounds, according to the 2015 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat
Survey released today.
The annual survey, which has been conducted jointly by the U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service since 1955, puts the
breeding duck population at a 49.52 million, slightly higher than last
year’s population of 49.15 million and 43 percent above the long-term
The survey marks the highest estimates ever recorded for mallards and
green-winged teal. Mallards increased 7 percent to 11.64 million, 51
percent above the long-term average. Green-winged teal populations grew
by 19 percent to 4.08 million, 98 percent above the long-term average.
“This year’s population estimates are not due to great conditions this
year, but high because of several consecutive years of great
production,” said Dr. Frank Rohwer, president of Delta Waterfowl. “All
the stars aligned in 2014: There was water in all the right places and
at all the right times. Despite the declining pond conditions, the data
indicates great population carryover from the last few highly successful
Homra Guide Service
The May pond count registered 6.31 million — 12 percent lower
than last year’s soaking wet conditions, but still 21 percent above the
long-term average. In the U.S. portion of the prairie pothole region,
which consists of eastern Montana and the Dakotas, conditions were drier
than previous years until significant rains fell in May and June. The
Canadian portion of PPR, which encompasses much of Alberta, Saskatchewan
and Manitoba, also saw reduced pond estimates. But unlike in the United
States, a lack of rains later in spring led to deteriorating conditions
for breeding ducks.
Drier wetland conditions can impact duck distribution and production.
Several species — notably pintails — will overfly the prairie if their
preferred small wetlands are dry when they are settling in spring.
“When birds pass over the prairie pothole region and settle farther north,
they typically do not have as high of reproductive success,” Rohwer said.
“Pintails and mallards tend to continue north when they don’t find
sufficient seasonal and temporary wetlands on the prairies.”
However, ducks that did settle in the Dakotas were likely able to
capitalize as wetland conditions improved later in spring. Rains in May
and June improved wetland conditions, which should aid duck production in
many areas of the U.S. prairies.
“The rains we got in May and June across the eastern Dakotas will probably
benefit late nesters like blue-winged teal, gadwalls and scaup,” Rohwer
said. “It’s also likely to spur renesting attempts and aid in duckling
By contrast, most areas of prairie Canada have not received the timely
spring rains that occurred in the U.S. prairies. As a result, pond
conditions have declined.
“The widespread drier conditions in prairie Canada later in spring will
negatively affect duck production,” Rohwer said.
In addition to record highs among the breeding populations of mallards and
green-winged teal, the gadwall estimate (3.83 million) is the second
highest in survey history, and the blue-winged teal estimate (8.55
million) is the species’ third highest ever. Population estimates for
wigeon (3.04 million), canvasbacks (757,000), redheads (1.2 million), and
scaup (4.4 million) are similar to 2014.
Northern shovelers showed the greatest decline, falling 17 percent to 4.39
million but remaining 75 percent above the long-term average. Pintails
continue to be a source of concern, declining for the fourth straight year
to 3.04 million birds, 24 percent below the long-term average.
The survey data is a reminder that this is a fine era to be a duck hunter.
Here is a phone video clip from a Reelfoot Lake youth hunt..."Smokin
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