Mid-winter Wisconsin waterfowl survey results show increase in waterfowl use compared to 2017

MADISON- Results from Wisconsin’s 2018 Mid-winter waterfowl show an increase in waterfowl seen compared to 2017 totals.

Despite sub-zero degree weather during much of the survey, Wisconsin saw an increase in waterfowl in the state compared to 2017. Winter weather varies each year — so far, 2018 has seen milder weather compared to last winter. Species like mallard ducks and Canada geese that move with the snowline were both observed during the January 2018 survey.

20,170 common goldeneye were counted during the 2018 mid-winter survey. - Photo credit: DNR
20,170 common goldeneye were counted during the 2018 mid-winter survey.Photo credit: DNR

“Department of Natural Resources biologists visited any open bodies of water they could find from Jan. 2 through Jan. 8 to count waterfowl and eagles,” said Taylor Finger, DNR migratory bird ecologist. “Work done by our biologists is part of coordinated efforts nationwide to survey waterfowl in areas of major concentration on their wintering areas and provide winter distributions of species using aircraft, vehicles and boots on the ground.”

DNR biologists counted 123,883 total waterfowl in the state during the January survey work – observed species totals are as follows:

  • 58,357 Canada geese (47 percent of total number of waterfowl observed);
  • 26,778 mallard ducks (21 percent of total number of waterfowl observed); and
  • 20,170 common goldeneye (16 percent of total number of waterfowl observed).

This survey serves as a primary source of data for developing population trends for some species that breed in remote Arctic locations and are difficult to survey during the breeding season. This survey also lets us monitor where species of ducks, geese, and swans are concentrated and distributed during winter, while helping identify population trends and informing our management decisions.

For more information regarding Wisconsin’s waterfowl species, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keywords “waterfowl management.” Additional survey information can also be found on the department website.