Saw this posted on NDGF website. :salude:
Spring Duck Index Remains High 06/23/04
North Dakota's 2004 spring breeding duck index was the third highest on record, despite a 16 percent decrease in available water areas.
The 57th annual spring survey, conducted May 10-14, showed an index of more than 4.3 million birds, 113 percent above the 1948-2003 average and 9 percent higher than last year, according to Mike Johnson, migratory game bird management supervisor for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.
Duck indices were up from 2003 for all species except mallard and blue-winged teal. The most significant increases were for redheads (51 percent), gadwall (44 percent) and wigeon (39 percent).
The index for mallards, although down 9 percent from 2003, was still 152 percent above the long-term average. Blue-winged teal, down 14 percent from last year, were 53 percent above the long-term average.
The survey is conducted by biologists driving more than 1,800 miles on eight routes spread across the state running from Canada to South Dakota. Observers count all ducks and water areas within 220 yards of the roadway, Johnson said. "This large sample gives indices from which we can compare year-to-year changes and the long-term trends of habitat conditions and waterfowl numbers."
Even though the 2004 water index was down from last year, it still remained 31 percent above the 1948-2003 average. Better water conditions were noted in the east, Johnson said, with much drier conditions in the west and northwest. "Water conditions in many of the larger semi-permanent and permanent wetlands remain high, but was considerably reduced compared to recent years," he added. "Many temporary, seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands had dried since last spring."
However, Johnson mentioned, recent rains have improved water conditions in the north and east since the survey was completed. "It appears the dry conditions of last fall, winter and early spring have been replaced by above normal precipitation across the northern and eastern portions of the state," Johnson continued. "Even though the 2004 water index is well above average, much of this water at the time of the survey was in larger semi-permanent and permanent wetlands, which are of less benefit to breeding ducks than the smaller temporary and seasonal wetlands."
The July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production, and a better insight into what to expect this fall, Johnson said. "Despite large populations and prospects for a good production year, fall weather always has a big impact on the success of the hunting season," he said.