Waterfowl hunters in the Carolinas can expect to see roughly the same number of ducks this coming season as they have in the past several, as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s annual report on the breeding duck population shows numbers slightly above 2014 levels.
The USFWS report showed a total population of breeding ducks at 49.5 million, up from 49.2 million in 2014 and the highest count on record.
“We are fortunate to see continued high overall duck populations in North America’s breeding areas this year,” said Dale Hall, CEO of conservation group Ducks Unlimited. “Though conditions were dry in some important habitats, we had large numbers of birds returning this spring and good conditions in the boreal forest and other areas of Canada. It looks like some typical prairie nesters skipped over the U.S. prairies and took advantage of good conditions farther north.”
Green-winged teal apparently fared the best during the spring and early summer, with numbers 19 percent above 2014 levels. Mallards, gadwall, widgeon, blue-winged teal, pintails, redheads, canvasback and scaup numbers were at levels similar to 2014. Northern shoveler numbers were off 17 percent, and black ducks were off 11 percent.
The USFWS and state wildlife agencies will use the breeding surveys as they put together a framework for the 2015-16 season, including dates and bag limits.