Annual waterfowl seasons are selected by states from a framework established by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Game Commission selections were made after reviewing last year’s season results, waterfowl survey data, and input gathered from waterfowl hunters and the public. Final approval from the USFWS is expected by late September.The agency has posted the annual waterfowl and migratory bird season brochure and zone maps on its website, making it convenient for hunters to access the information they need.Game Commission waterfowl biologist Kevin Jacobs said the outlook is mixed for waterfowl populations important toPennsylvania.“Banding studies indicate most of Pennsylvania’s mallard, wood duck, and Canada goose harvests are derived from birds breeding in Pennsylvania and surrounding states,“ Jacobs said. „These populations are monitored through the Atlantic Flyway Breeding Waterfowl Survey. At the state level, the estimated number of indicated mallard breeding pairs (69,400) was 24 percent below the 1993-2012 long-term average of 91,000 pairs.
Other surveys also indicate that mallard populations in the northeastern U.S. have declined from levels observed in the 1990s. The 59,600 wood duck breeding pairs estimated in Pennsylvania in 2013 is similar to the long-term statewide average of 52,000 pairs.““Trends in wood duck abundance have indicated stable to slightly increasing populations across all years of the survey for both Pennsylvania and the northeastern U.S.,“ Jacobs said. „The 2013 statewide estimate for American black ducks is 2,137 pairs. Black ducks have been observed at very low and declining densities since the survey was initiated in 1989. However, black duck populations in eastern Canada remain healthy and support open hunting seasons on this historically important species in eastern North America. American black ducks continue to account for about 5 percent ofPennsylvania’s total duck harvest.“The Pennsylvania estimates of total blue-winged teal (11,100) and total green-winged teal (6,300) are above average in 2013.“We don’t believe these estimates are indicative of true breeding populations of teal in Pennsylvania as many migrating teal are encountered during the survey period,“ Jacobs said. „Estimates of total hooded mergansers (10,700) and common mergansers (28,000) are above average. The trends for both breeding merganser species have increased since 1993.“