LITTLE ROCK (AGFC) – Despite dry conditions across much of Arkansas, the state's estimated duck population is very similar to the long-term average for November.
Duck season is currently closed for the first split of the 2012-13 season. It will re-open Thursday, Dec. 6. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission biologists conducted this season's first aerial waterfowl survey the week before the Nov. 17 season opener.
Flying randomly selected transects in the state's Delta region, observers counted an estimated 832,799 ducks, including 442,121 mallards. The total duck count was similar to the long-term average for the early survey period, while the mallard count was more three times higher than last year's November mallard count and the highest mallard count since the AGFC initiated transect surveys in the Delta in 2009. The mallard population estimate was roughly double the long-term November average. A separate aerial survey took place in the Arkansas River Valley on Nov. 8. Observers estimated 7,732 ducks in the region, including an extremely low mallard count of roughly 1,000 birds, but recent field reports indicate a likely increase in duck numbers in the River Valley after the passage of a pair of cold fronts.
Biologists conducted an additional survey in southwest Arkansas Nov. 16. Duck numbers were higher in this region, with nearly 22,000 ducks estimated, 13,090 of which were mallards.