COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio waterfowl hunters should have good opportunities to take some of the most popular species of waterfowl, based on the findings of biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The spring pond index for the prairie pothole region of North America (Kansas to central Saskatchewan) and breeding duck surveys indicate an above average reproduction year for most duck species. Ponds are housing above average numbers and good production has been noted from most of the primary breeding range. Duck numbers are slightly lower than 2009, but they are still 21 percent above the long-term average.
Closer to home, the Upper Great Lakes states showed average habitat conditions and similar production of mallards as last year. The Upper Great Lakes are the primary breeding range for mallards harvested in Ohio. Mallards are Ohio’s number one harvested duck and can be found throughout the state. Wood ducks, the second most important duck to Ohio hunters and the state’s number one breeding duck, appear to have had a fair production year.
Late summer dry conditions may concentrate birds, but a variety of hunting locations should be available for Ohio hunters. Canada geese are the most harvested waterfowl in Ohio and can be found in good numbers everywhere. Locally raised giant Canada geese had the fourth highest population estimate this spring and all indications are there was fair to good production across Ohio. Migrant interior populations (Southern James Bay and Mississippi Valley) of Canada geese have also had good production. With proper weather, the hunting outlook is good to very good.
With good habitat conditions, Ohio hunters will enjoy a liberal 60-day hunting season once again this year. Pintail again showed an increase in population which will allow a two-bird bag this year. Scaup showed a slight increase in population, so there will be a two-bird bag for the whole season. The canvasback population decreased slightly, but there will still be a full season in 2010.
The success of Ohio waterfowl hunters has more to do with weather conditions and choice of hunting location than available ducks. Hunters should be scouting their territories now and securing landowner permission where needed. State wildlife areas are in good condition with excellent fall food potential. Heavy rains early in the summer followed by an extended drought permitted considerable growth in moist-soil plants in many traditional wetlands. A flooding of those areas by early fall rains should provide additional waterfowl habitat.
Hunters should not only check their traditional spots, but also more marginal haunts for food production and water quantity. Details of the waterfowl and all other hunting seasons can be found in the Ohio Hunting and Trapping Regulations and in Ohio Waterfowl Hunting Seasons. Hunters can also review seasons and regulations online at wildohio.com
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at www.ohiodnr.com.