Expect ducks aplenty on hunting season's opener

Retrieving ducks
Hunters should expect to see lots of ducks this season.
MPR Photo/Stephanie Hemphill

Minnesota's waterfowl hunting season opens Saturday and the odds are good hunters will see lots of ducks.

Wet weather in recent years has helped keep duck populations high despite the loss of their grassland habitats to farming, said Steve Cordts, a waterfowl specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Breeding duck numbers are up 30 percent from last year, DNR surveys show.

Cordts, though, cautioned that the cold spring might mean fewer young birds survived.

"This year the cold and the late ice out we had -- everything was delayed," he said. "The nesting effort was probably as late as it's ever been. We had a very poor nesting year for Canada geese and it probably played a role for ducks as well."

The loss of grasslands -- farmers have plowed under millions of acres in recent years to plant corn and soybeans - is a longer term concern that may surface in the spring, Cordts added.

"I think we'll really notice the impacts to duck populations when we get into some drier conditions and you have both loss of grass and drier conditions in the springtime," he said.

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