Observers saw fewer ducks in Michigan this year compared to 2015 during the Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) wildlife staff members took to the sky in February and observed 157,028 ducks. In 2015, 173,386 ducks were counted—a 9% drop.
However, officials aren’t concerned by the lower numbers.
“The ducks were spread out this year with the mild winter and all the open water,” says Joe Robison, field operations manager for the DNR Wildlife Division’s Southeast Region. “We did not count as many ducks in this year’s survey, but we believe that duck abundance is similar to last year.”
During the survey, observers saw more geese and swans than they did in 2015.
Those counting from small aircraft saw 33,468 geese and 5,896 swans in February, compared to 20,350 geese and 4,365 swans in 2015.
According to the DNR areas near western Lake Erie, the Detroit River and Lake St. Clair in southeastern Michigan makes up one of the most important areas in North America for migrating birds.
The Mid-Winter Waterfowl Survey is a partnership between several states, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Canadian provinces and the Canadian Wildlife Service to conduct aerial surveys of wintering waterfowl. Michigan has taken part in the survey since 1991.
The estimates aid in evaluating populations, migratory patterns and habitat planning. In addition, results from the entire survey network help establish waterfowl hunting seasons for the Mississippi, Central and Pacific Flyways.