WASHINGTON, D.C. The total population of breeding ducks found by aerial surveys in traditional survey areas in Canada and the northern United States fell to approximately 36.1 million birds.
That number represents a decline of nearly 14 percent from last year's index of 41.8 million birds, but is still 9 percent above the long term average breeding population since surveys began in 1955.
"After five years of steady increases leading up to the record 1999 season, most duck populations remain healthy but have begun to fall back in line with historic averages," acting Fish and Wildlife Service Director Marshall Jones said. "A significant factor contributing to the recent stability is the progress we've made in stemming the rate of wetland loss and restoring and enhancing wetlands across the country."
Breeding populations of mallards fell 17 percent from 2000 levels to 7.9 million, a level comparable to their long-term average. Blue-winged teal numbers, at 5.8 million, declined 23 percent from 2000 levels but remained 29 percent greater than their long-term average.
Green-winged teal (2.5 million, down 21 percent from 2000) and northern shoveler (3.3 million, down 6 percent) populations remained above their long-term averages while American wigeon (2.5 million, down 9 percent), redhead (712,000, down 23 percent), and canvasback (580,000, down 18 percent) populations were similar to their long-term averages.
The Service remains concerned about the continuing decline of canvasback populations, which have been trending downward since 1996.
Scaup numbers, at 3.7 million birds, declined nearly 8 percent from 2000 levels and remain 31 percent below their long-term average. The northern pintail population of 3.3 million was slightly above the 2000 level, but numbers also remain well below historic averages.