The 2020 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey has been canceled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This means that guidance numbers on nesting waterfowl, population numbers, and the 2020 Snow Goose Hatch won’t be available. The official announcement can be seen at the USFWS website.
What was canceled in 2020?
• Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey – ducks, some geese
• Mottled Duck Breeding Population Survey in Louisiana and Texas – mottled ducks
• American Woodcock Singing Ground Survey – woodcock
• North American Breeding Bird Survey – webless species, wood duck
• Mid-continent Population of Sandhill Cranes Spring Survey – sandhill cranes
What does this mean moving forward?
Hunting seasons will continue and be similar to that of last year using long-term data for guidance and expected population abundance numbers. The species that will be impacted the most will be most duck species. some goose species, and sandhill cranes.
How will the USFWS make decisions about duck season?
Duck seasons in the Central, Mississippi, and Pacific flyways are based on the status of mallards, while the Atlantic Flyway uses four species (Green-winged teal, golden-eye, wood duck, and ring-necked duck). The Adaptive Harvest Management system will continue to be used in developing regulations.
For general duck season and bag limits, the USFWS will use long term population data to predict what the 2020 survey numbers should have been based on the spring nesting conditions.
What to expect for the 2020-2021 Duck Season?
Expect things to be similar to last season except with slight modifications to species of special concern. The USFWS will work with flyway councils to address any species related changes to bag limits and season lengths. Banding programs have also been canceled north of 60 degrees latitude, so expect less banded birds this year. Preliminary snow melt findings from the tundra point towards an average to above average snow goose hatch for 2020/2021.