Ducks Unlimited: Most Numbers Down From Most Recent (2019) Survey

Ducks Unlimited released its most recent survey of waterfowl species numbers. The Covid pandemic meant 2022 represents the first such study since 2019. So we’re talking a three-year gap between surveying various ducks and what the difference is between surveys. As the following graphic suggests, most species are in less numbers compared to the most recent statistical release:

Just two of the 10 ducks counted – blue-winged teal and redheads – are in a positive spot from 2019, and scaup counts remain virtually unchanged. Here’s more on the results from Ducks Unlimited:

Total populations were estimated at 34.2 million breeding ducks in the traditional survey area, 12 percent lower than 2019’s estimate of 38.9 million and 4 percent below the long-term average (since 1955).

“Although the beneficial effects of timely precipitation during late winter and spring were evident by high pond counts across the eastern prairies, the total duck estimate in the Traditional Survey Area was the lowest in nearly 20 years,” said DU Chief Scientist Dr. Steve Adair. “The drop in duck numbers reflects the consequences of low production caused by multiple years of prairie drought, including 2021, which was one of the most severe and widespread in nearly 4 decades. But the survey revealed some bright spots for duck populations and provided optimism for good production this summer and carry-over of favorable pond conditions into fall and winter.”

“Whether it’s good news or bad, Ducks Unlimited believes in following the science. We are grateful for our federal, state and provincial partners resuming the surveys to gather the data we’ve all come to rely on,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Adam Putnam. “This year’s survey revealed what many expected, lower breeding duck populations partly as result of the drought we’ve experienced the last few years. While we never like to see these declines, we know that prairie drought can increase wetland productivity and sets the stage for waterfowl success when the water returns, much as it did this spring in parts of the prairie. We will not stop working toward our vision of skies filled with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever.”

To download the full report, visit the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Surveys and Data.