Annual DNR survey places Minnesota duck populations on top.
Since 1968, the DNR has surveyed Minnesota duck and goose populations to provide a index of breeding duck abundance in the state. While 2016 has proven to be a banner year for ducks, the goose population has dropped significantly since last year.
The survey, conducted in late May, covers 40 percent of the state through much of its prime duck habitat and is used to estimate breeding ducks or geese that nest in the state rather than migrate through.
The results for Minnesota ducks are promising. The mallard breeding population is estimated at 243,000, an 18 percent increase from last year and 7 percent above the long-term average since 1968. Blue-winged teal number at a estimated 317,000, up a whopping 88 percent from last years estimate and a full 50 percent above the long-term average.
Other duck species are doing just as well. Combined populations of ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, gadwalls, shovelers, redheads and canvasbacks is estimated at 208,000, which is 39 percent higher than 2015 and 17 percent higher than the long term average.
"Despite fairly dry conditions, duck numbers seemed good across all species," said Steve Cordts, DNR waterfowl specialist in an interview.
Added all up, the total abundance of Minnesota ducks is 768,000, a number 47 percent higher than recorded in 2015 and 25 percent higher than the long-term average.
While Minnesota duck numbers are up across the board, goose numbers are dropping. This years estimates place the number of Canadian geese at 202,000, down from a estimated 250,000 last year.
"Even with lower numbers, goose production seems to be very good with lots of young geese across the state, following the early spring this year and early nesting effort by Canada geese," Cordts said.