If you’re like me, you’ll strap on your waders and head to your favorite duck hole this fall—nothing will stop you. But knowing that duck numbers are solid definitely adds to the anticipation of opening day. The sight of a sky full of cupped wings is a special thing, and according to the 2013 Trends in Duck Breeding Populations report released this week by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, prospects are promising.
The total breeding population is estimated to be 46.5 million—the second-highest level ever recorded, according to our friends at Delta Waterfowl. On an even better note, spring conditions were ideal for producing ducklings, which is sweet news for the future of ducks and duck hunters. (Get the full scoop from Delta Waterfowl right here.)
While this is great to hear, it’s important to stick to your guns and support ongoing conservation efforts. Waterfowl populations are always on thin ice. Why? It’s simple: Ducks need water to breed, survive and thrive, and our fragile wetlands are constantly under attack. North America is only so big, and not everyone in our expansive human population values a “useless swamp.” Sure, if you’re reading this, you probably “get it.” But not everyone does. That’s where you can make a difference.
It’s never too late to double down for ducks. You can do as much as throw down some cash to join Ducks Unlimited or Delta Waterfowl and become an active volunteer, or you can do something as simple as sparking a bar-stool conversation about why you dig ducks. Just do something if you’re passionate about whistling wings. It’ll pay off.
Need more motivation to hunt ducks this season or become a waterfowl conservationist? Check out this short video with Ducks Unlimited’s Chief of Conservation, Paul Schmidt.
Editor’s note: If you’re unable to view the video, click here.
One last thing: Ever wonder how the USFWS survey is conducted to get a reasonably accurate count of ducks? Check out this great article from Ducks Unlimited to find out.