Tuesday, July 8, 2014

2014 Duck Forecast

It has been a wet, miserable spring and early summer here in the upper Midwest.  Lake level are at their record highs in many areas, flooding is a massive issue, and some areas are considering building an ark.  It's bad.

Unless, of course, you're a duck.  All of this water means that what was previously marginal breeding habitat is now like a suite at the Four Seasons in Vegas - there's nothing but some big time breeding that is going on, and the numbers reflect it:

Some highlights from the 2014 USFW study:
  • Mallards - everyone's favorite duck, had a healthy 5% growth to push them to 42% over their long term average (LTA)
  • Wigeon had a nice rebound of 18% growth
  • Pintail continue to suffer; down 9% for the year, and down 20% from their LTA
  • Shoveler - AKA Spoonie or Hollywood - is up a massive 114% from their LTA
  • Canvasbacks dipped a surprising 13%, but thankfully remain up 18% to their LTA
For the fall flight, we're looking at an 8% increase on what was a hell of a season last year.  It is hard to believe that things could get better, especially as we continually lose habitat to farming year after year.  One of these years we'll be hit with drought in the duck production areas, and when that happens there is no habitat to which the ducks can fall back.  At that point, their numbers will absolutely crash, and that's not a function of if, but when.

But not this year.  Get out there this fall, fellow waterfowlers.  Things pretty much can't get any better than this.

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