Annual Breeding Waterfowl Population Survey Returns, Estimates 34.2 Million Ducks

May pond counts are 4% above the long-term average, which should lead to good duck production and a strong fall flight

BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — After being cancelled for the previous two years by concerns over COVID-19, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service were able to conduct the annual Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey this spring. The results were released today in USFWS 2022 Waterfowl Status Report.

The survey, which is used to set hunting regulations throughout North America, put the total spring breeding population index at 34.2 million ducks, which is 4% below the long-term average and 12% below the 2019 index. Importantly, the May pond count, a key indicator of duck production potential, showed 5.45 million ponds, which is 4% above the long-term average and 9% above the 2019 index.

“Given the widespread dry conditions last year across most of the prairies where ducks breed, it’s not surprising that the breeding population number is lower than it had been throughout most of the 2010s,” said Dr. Chris Nicolai, waterfowl scientist for Delta Waterfowl. “The good news is that much of the prairie — especially the Dakotas, Manitoba, and eastern Saskatchewan — was really wet this spring. Duck production should be good to excellent across the eastern part of the prairie and in the northern areas, too.”

NOTE: This is a developing story. More to come soon.

2022 breeding population and habitat chart for ducks