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2018 American Waterfowl Population Estimated at Over 41 Million Birds


Duck numbers drop but remain above average


The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service released its Waterfowl Population Status, 2018 report August 21. This cooperative effort between USFWS and the Canadian Wildlife Service includes the most recent North American waterfowl breeding population estimates.*


The total duck population estimate for 2018 was 41.2 +/- 0.7 million birds, a 13% decrease

from 2017’s estimate of 43.7 +/- 0.8 million birds.


The breeding population decreased, but remains quite strong, with most species remaining near or above long-term averages. Ducks declined due to dry conditions in large portions of the breeding grounds. Fortunately, we continue to benefit from ‘carryover birds’ hatched during highly productive springs over the past several years.

--Dr. Frank Rohwer, president and chief scientist of Delta Waterfowl


Although down from 2017, this year’s duck numbers were 17% higher than the long-term average (LTA) from surveys conducted 1955 to 2017. And populations for eight of the 10 duck species were above LTAs. 


duck and waterfowl population in 2018

Estimates don’t include scoters(Melanitta spp.) , eiders (Somateria spp., and Polysticta spp.), long-tailed ducks (Clangula hymenalis), mergansers ([Mergus spp. and Lephodytes cucullatus) and wood ducks (Aix sponsa).


The total waterfowl May pond estimate (encompassing Prairie and Parkland Canada and the north-central U.S.) was 5,227,000 +/- 0.2 million, 14% below the 2017 estimate of 6,096,000 +/- 0.2 million but corresponding to the LTA of 5,236,000 +/- 0.03 million.


The pond count has been above, in some cases way above, the long-term average for many years, and we’ve enjoyed huge duck estimates as a result. This year, the count is average and in some cases, well-below average.

-- Rohwer said on Delta Waterfowl’s website



Canada goose populations


Seven of the 15 Canada goose populations surveyed had positive increases from 2017. These include North Atlantic (+12%), Atlantic Flyway Resident (+10%), Central Flyway Arctic Nesting (+35%), Hi-Line (+9%), Rocky Mountain (+35%), Pacific (+18%) and Aleutian (+2%). Final estimates for Southern Hudson Bay and Mississippi Flyway Giant populations are not yet available. 

Canada Goose population in 2018


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