Northwest waterfowlers should see more mallards and other ducks for the youth hunting weekends next month and when the general season begins in October, but potentially fewer later in fall and winter as northern birds arrive.
Those are some of the bullet points from a federal survey released today.
It reports that Oregon numbers are up 23 percent over last year while Washington counts rose 16 percent.
GADWALL AND MALLARDS TAKE FLIGHT AT STEIGERWALD NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE JUST OUTSIDE OF WASHOUGAL, WASHINGTON. (CHAD ZOLLER)
While the bulk of our flocks fly in from British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and Alaska, local production sustains early hunting before cold weather pushes northern birds south.
According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 294,000 ducks were counted this year in Oregon, up from 240,000 last year, while 281,000 were tallied in Washington, a rise of 39,000 from 2017.
Those are 12 and 59 percent above the long-term averages, respectively.
Mallard counts were also up in both states, from 72,000 to 93,000 in the former and 103,000 to 125,000 in the latter. Those figures are 7 and 51 percent above the average.
USFWS reported that while habitat conditions declined in Oregon compared to 2017, they were still considered “fair to good” because of 2016-17’s wet winter. A wet April helped keep ponds up in Washington, biologists reported.
2018-19 DUCK SEASONS
Idaho: Area 1 (all counties except Valley, western half of Power and Southeast Idaho): Oct. 13-Jan. 25; Area 2: Oct. 6-Jan. 18
Oregon: Zone 1 (Western, Northcentral counties): Oct. 13-28, Oct. 31-Jan. 27; Zone 2 (Central, Eastern Counties): Oct. 6-Nov. 25, Nov. 28-Jan. 20; Statewide youth weekend: Sept. 22-23; Note: several state and federal refuges also offer youth hunting days; see the regs for dates, application deadlines
Washington: Oct. 13-31, Nov. 3-Jan. 27; Westside youth weekend: Sept. 22-23; Eastside youth weekend: Sept. 29-30
In the “prime” breeding grounds of southern and interior British Columbia, habitat conditions were “very good” to “good,” leading to a slight rise in mallard numbers.
Surveys further north, however, found fewer ducks. Numbers in Alaska and the Yukon declined 15 percent over 2017 and fell below the long-term average, while in northern BC, northern and central Alberta and the Northwest Territory, they dropped 13 percent.
Southern Alberta flocks fell 14 percent while those in Montana and North and South Dakota were essentially unchanged.
Ducks Unlimited reported that, overall, U.S. and Canadian duck numbers were down 13 percent over last year but were still 17 percent above the longterm average.
“The dip in the population for prairie-breeding puddle ducks is not unexpected and by no means unprecedented given that conditions on the prairies this spring were drier than last year,” said DU Chief Scientist Tom Moorman in a press release. “This year’s breeding population decline is a reminder of the need to sustain the capacity of breeding habitats, particularly in the prairies as we go through natural variation in wetland conditions. Waterfowl populations are adapted well to short-term swings in habitat conditions, but we must continue to guard against the long-term loss of prairie breeding habitat.”
Grand scheme, North American mallard, gadwall, green- and blue-winged teal, shoveler and redhead numbers are all declining year to year but still above average, widgeon and canvasback numbers are about average, while pintail and scaup are below average and declining, according to USFWS.
SEATTLE DU BANQUET COMING UP
Seattle Chapter members of Ducks Unlimited are looking to build on their phenomenal support of waterfowl and their habitat with another blockbuster annual banquet early next month.
“We’ve raised more over the past decade than any other Ducks Unlimited chapter in the US,” says organizer and longtime waterfowler Greg James. “We are the first chapter to go over $300,000 net at a dinner, and then the first one to go over $400,000 net.”
In 2016, Seattle DU was honored with a place on the Chairman’s Roll of Honor chapters list, for those that raise $250,000 to $1 million.
Last year’s banquet raised $400,000 for wetlands conservation, James says, and as a DU newsletter states, the chapter’s efforts are showing “that the Emerald City can be known for something other than coffee, jets, and software.”
The 2018 edition is set for Oct. 4, from 6 to 9 p.m. at Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel. The evening features a five-star dinner, wines, entertainment and an auction.
For more, contact Karin Dow-Martinez at (206) 524-5300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.