Breeding mallard numbers average;
Canada goose population high
Annual spring breeding waterfowl index surveys indicated average numbers of breeding mallards, lower numbers of blue-winged teal and other ducks and large numbers of Canada geese in Minnesota, according to the DNR.
The survey, designed specifically for mallards, estimates duck numbers for just a portion of the states. The survey areas estimated breeding mallard population index was 225,000, which is similar to the long-term average of 226,000 breeding mallards, but 21 percent lower than 2011 and 17 percent lower than the 10-year average.
The blue-winged teal index was 109,000 this year compared with 214,000 in 2011 and 50 percent lower than the long-term average of 219,000 blue-winged teal.
The survey results for other ducks combined, such as wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, gadwalls, northern shovelers, canvasbacks and redheads, was 135,000, which is 29 percent lower than last year and 24 percent below the long-term average.
The estimated number of wetlands (Types II-V) decreased 37 percent from last year and was 10 percent below the long-term average.
The same waterfowl survey has been conducted each May since 1968 to provide an annual index of breeding duck abundance. The survey covers 40 percent of the state, which includes much of the best remaining duck breeding habitat in Minnesota.
A DNR waterfowl biologist and pilot count all waterfowl and wetlands along established survey routes by flying low-level aerial surveys from a fixed-wing plane. The survey is timed to begin in early May to coincide with peak nesting activity of mallards. The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides ground crews that also count waterfowl along some of the same survey routes. This data is then used to correct for birds not seen by the aerial crew.
The goal in the DNR’s Duck Recovery Plan is to attract and hold a breeding population of 1 million ducks.
The Canada goose population is estimated by a separate helicopter survey conducted in April. This year’s estimated goose population was 434,000, which was higher than last year’s estimate of 370,000.
The Canada goose hunting season established by the DNR in recent years is open for 107 days, the maximum number of days allowed.
The Minnesota waterfowl report can be viewed online at www.mndnr.gov/hunting/waterfowl. DNR will announce this fall’s waterfowl hunting regulations in early August.
Mille Lacs State Park programs scheduled
Four programs were scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Mille Lacs State Park near Onamia.
• 9 a.m. — “Kathio, A Bird’s-eye View:” Climb the 100-foot observation tower for a spectacular view. Park staffers will point out a National Wildlife Refuge and other points of interest. Meet at the bottom of the Observation Tower. Time of the program will depend on how many attend. Participants will go up in groups of eight. Strong winds or a storm will cancel the program.
• 10:30 a.m.-noon — “Nature Table: Fish of Mille Lacs:” Visit with a naturalist about “fish facts,” including species identification, habits, habitat and more. Look for the naturalist table near the swimming area from 10:30 a.m.-noon. In case of rain this program will be canceled.
• 2-3 p.m. — “Let’s Get Owly:” Learn what makes owls such great hunters of the night, and participate in the popular activity “What was for supper?” The program is designed for kids age 7 and older, but it’s also good for younger children who have help from parents. Meet at the Interpretive Center.
10:30-11:15 a.m. — “Frogs: Fact & Folklore:” A talk about frogs and toads of Kathio will be followed by a nature film on frogs around the world. Meet at the Interpretive Center.
Becker sets bag record,
wins Bass Snatchers tourney
Art Becker set a new club bag record in winning the second Baxter Bass Snatchers tournament of the year June 30 on Leech Lake.
Becker’s bag totaled 22 pounds, 10 ounces. Todd Berghuis was second at 21-14 and Chuck Fields third at 20-1. Darren Kiefer earned lunker honors with a 5-5 bass.
In all, 30 anglers caught and released 167 bass.