The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently completed its 2015 waterfowl breeding population survey, and the numbers in California are down significantly. Using methodology approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), the survey indicates the total number of breeding ducks (all species combined) has declined, while breeding mallards, the most numerous duck species in the state, declined 27 percent from 2014.
The total number of breeding ducks is estimated at 315,580, compared to 448,750 last year. The estimated breeding population of mallards is 173,865, a decrease from 238,670 in 2014. CDFW attributes the decline to very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions. Similar declines in breeding duck population estimates have occurred in the past but recovered after habitat conditions improved.
“Habitat conditions were poor the last three 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 2015,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Environmental Scientist Melanie Weaver. “We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2015. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas (Alaska and Canada) are reported to be better than average.”
Click here to read the 2015 CDFW Waterfowl Survey in full.