Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Breeding population just ducky on Prairies

  • Print

Duck hunting this year could be the best Manitoba has seen in a long time.

SHEL ZOLKEWICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Duck hunting this year could be the best Manitoba has seen in a long time. Photo Store

Duck hunters rejoice! According to the recently released Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report, the numbers of breeding ducks and ponds are up eight per cent compared with last year.

The numbers are also 43 per cent higher than the long-term average.

Every year since 1955, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, along with the Canadian Wildlife Service, has done a coast-to-coast roundup of habitat conditions and duck numbers.

Danny Kingsberry of Environment Canada's communications branch shed some light on what the numbers mean, specifically for Manitoba.

 

Q: Is it safe to say breeding numbers and ponds are in very good condition overall?

A: The numbers of breeding ducks and ponds within the Canada/U.S. prairie-parkland area and portions of the western boreal forest are very good and as high as we have seen since the mid-1970s, another period of favourable wetland conditions on the Prairies. Duck populations tend to respond positively to improved water conditions. Research has shown in wet years ducks will make more attempts to nest if they lose their first or subsequent nests to predators than they do in dry years, and improved water conditions in spring usually translate into more good-quality brood-rearing habitat in summer.

Q: All species seem to be doing well in southern Manitoba, with the exception of canvasback. What's going on with them?

A: Canvasback counts were down only four per cent in southern Manitoba from 2013, when canvasback estimates were the third-highest seen since surveys began in 1955. This spring, canvasback numbers in southern Manitoba still exceeded the long-term average by six per cent, and across their nesting range they were 18 per cent above the long-term average.

Q: With these excellent habitat conditions and strong breeding numbers, someone might argue the landscape is in great shape, and we don't need to worry about conserving wetlands at this point. What's your take on this?

A: Much of the Canadian and U.S. Prairie has been wet in recent years, resulting in improved habitat conditions for duck species, some of which are currently at long-term high population levels. However, water conditions on the Prairies fluctuate from wet (such as 2014) to very dry (drought) periods, which is not creating favourable conditions for wetlands. Habitat conservation initiatives such as the North American Waterfowl Management Plan are needed to maintain enough wetland habitats over the long-term to meet the needs of wetland species regardless of these short-term fluctuations in wetland conditions.

Q: So what does it all mean for hunting come the waterfowl season of 2014?

"I live for duck hunting in the fall, and this is the most excited I've been in a long time. Last year was great, but this year could even be better," said Rob Olson, managing director of the Manitoba Wildlife Federation. "In my travels around Manitoba lately, I've been taken aback by the number of broods I've been seeing. Notable is the incredible numbers of blue-winged teal and mallards. This is a year for duck hunting, folks. Get out there and enjoy this bounty."

 

Shel Zolkewich writes about the outdoors, travel and food when she's not playing outside, traveling or eating. You can reach her with your comments at shel@shelzolkewich.com.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 19, 2014 C12

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Bartley Kives on 5 obstacles for new mayor and city council

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • The sun peers through the fog to illuminate a tree covered in hoar frost near Headingley, Manitoba Thursday- Standup photo- February 02, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Goose sits in high grass near Marion Friday afternoon for cover -See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 18 - May 25, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Who has been the biggest disappointment on the Jets to start the season?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google