2023 Waterfowl Inhabitants Survey Outcomes Launched

Geese Limitless introduced the outcomes of the 2023 Waterfowl Inhabitants Survey on Friday, and the outlook was grimmer than scientists had hoped. The entire depend of 32.3 million geese was down 7 p.c from 2022, and 9 p.c from the long-term common. Whereas seven of the ten species counted noticed declines from 2022, six of the ten species are nonetheless exhibiting will increase over their respective long-term averages, an indication that their numbers are nonetheless holding robust. 

Sadly, a number of the species which can be going through long-term declines are additionally a number of the most beloved by waterfowl hunters—particularly mallards and pintails.

2023 ducks unlimited survey results
The 2023 Waterfowl Breeding Inhabitants survey outcomes. Geese Limitless

In 2022 pintail numbers hit a document low of fewer than 1.8 million birds. This yr’s depend was one thing to have a good time: a rise of 24 p.c to 2.2 million birds. That’s encouraging, however this yr’s pintail inhabitants nonetheless represents a 43 p.c decline over the long-term common. 

The mallard inhabitants is 6.1 million birds robust, cementing the species as probably the most considerable duck in North America. However the mallard’s current downward inhabitants development can also be of nice concern, seeing as how they suffered each a year-over-year lower of 18 p.c and a 23 p.c decline from the long-term common. 

Wigeon have additionally struggled, going through each a 14 p.c drop from final yr and a 28 p.c lower from their long-term common. These declines have researchers involved about “the persevering with loss and degradation of habitat within the prairies and long-term impacts on carrying capability and productiveness,” says DU chief scientist Dr. Steve Adair.

Scientists had their hopes up attributable to a moist spring, particularly within the japanese prairies, which is why these numbers are disappointing, Adair says. However there’s an opportunity the inhabitants progress hasn’t fairly caught up with the momentary enchancment in situations but, particularly after warped climate patterns in 2022 pushed again the nesting timeline.

“Final yr’s nesting season was delayed with April snowstorms and Could rains which doubtless impacted total manufacturing,” Adair mentioned in a press launch. “Previously, we now have seen inhabitants progress lag [behind] moisture situations as small, shallow wetlands get well from the lingering impacts of extreme drought.”  

Learn Subsequent: Pintails Hit Their Lowest Inhabitants in Many years. Some Researchers Suppose We Might be Miscounting Them

The annual Waterfowl Breeding Inhabitants and Habitat Survey is performed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Breeding surveys started in 1947 and have since transitioned into the monumental effort that waterfowlers comply with together with right this moment. Air and floor crews from each companies comb a 2-million-acre survey space from Alaska to Newfoundland to Nebraska and report their findings to assist each companies make choices about searching seasons, bag limits, conservation planning, and habitat administration.

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