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Drought Causes Drop in Duck Population

U.S. duck population drops by 11 percent

Reuters News Service, July 13, 2004

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The duck population in the United States and Canada dropped 11 percent from a year ago as drought dried up breeding grounds, said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service Monday.

This year's duck population of 32.2 million birds was 11 percent less than the 36.2 million birds tallied a year ago.

While more rain has fallen since duck populations were measured in May, a shortage of winter precipitation and limited runoff into ponds and basins dried up areas commonly used for breeding.

"This is a definite plus for the fall flight but, unfortunately, not as beneficial for ducks as moisture that arrives earlier in the year," said Bruce Batt, chief biologist with Ducks Unlimited.

The survey found breeding had dropped by 7 percent in Montana and the western Dakotas while breeding rose 3 percent in the eastern Dakotas.

In most parts of Canada, breeding populations dropped between 4 percent and 9 percent. In northern Manitoba, western Ontario and northern Saskatchewan, duck populations were up 15 percent while in southern Saskatchewan they plunged 38 percent.

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