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CDFW announces results of waterfowl breeding population survey.
The number of waterfowl breeding in California remains similar to last year and stable. This includes all waterfowl species except mallard ducks. Twenty percent fewer mallards were found breeding in 2014 compared to the previous year.
CDFW estimates that approximately 448,750 ducks are breeding in 2014. That compares to a breeding population of 451,300 in 2013. The number of breeding mallards decreased from 298,600 in 2013 to 238,700 in 2014. The Department of Fish and Wildlife explains the decrease with the drought and poor habitat conditions. On the other hand, other breeding waterfowl species increased their numbers this year.
“Habitat conditions were poor the last two years in both northeastern California and the Central Valley and the production of young ducks was reduced as a result, so a lower breeding population was expected in 2014,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Biologist Melanie Weaver.
“We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2014. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas are reported to be better than average.”
The surveyed areas include waterfowl populations in wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, the Central Valley from Red Bluff to Bakersfield, and the Suisun Marsh. Most of the wintering ducks in California fly in from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFW in Alaska and Canada. Their survey results should become public in July. The USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council uses CDFW surveys of breeding waterfowl populations and information from other Flyway states to set waterfowl hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states. California is one of them.
Federal regulations specify the beginning and ending dates, maximum season length, maximum bag limits. Based on this framework the California Department of Fish and Wildlife recommend to the Fish and Game Commission waterfowl hunting regulations for this year.