The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDWF) wrapped-up their waterfowl breeding population survey which showed the number of breeding ducks was down 14% from 2018 and 14% below the long-term average.
Sadly, California may not see as many Cinnamon Teal or Mallards this year as the breeding population decreased by 36% and 12%, respectively. Even everyone’s favorite duck, the Spoonie, was on the decline as there are 5% less than last year’s breeding populations.
On a positive note, other species are well above their long-term averages. This includes Gadwalls (29%), Green-wing Teal (62%), and Common Mergansers (127%). Canadian Geese numbers were up as well at 11% above the long-term average.
Even though overall numbers may be down this year, the outlook for future hunting seasons looks strong due to all the rain we received this last winter. According to one CDFW biologist, Dan Skalos, is that the nesting season may have been prolonged due to the amount of rain California received in May. Some areas, such as San Diego, saw four times their normal rain levels for the month of May, and other areas in Northern California along the Eastern Sierras were hit with snow as well. Other good news for California duck hunters is the normal reminder that most of our ducks come down from Alaska and Canada as the weather gets colder come hunting season. So don’t worry as the ducks will still migrate for the season.
California duck numbers are down overall, but with the much-needed rainwater we got this last winter, we may see a better hunting season than we have the last few years. Load up on the Gadwall and Green-wing decoys, and we’ll see you in October!