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LDWF duck estimates – NE LA

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LDWF aerial survey:

The Northeast Louisiana survey was conducted November 9-15 via transects
similar to December and January 2022. This survey is no longer flown over select locations and
should not be compared to past years’ reports. A total of 208,000 ducks were estimated (73%
dabbling ducks). 64% of ducks were found in flooded agricultural habitats and 26% on open
water (reservoirs, brakes, rivers). Shallow, moist-soil wetlands held only 8% of birds in

November. Forested wetlands (sloughs, flooded timber, and wooded wetlands) held only 2% of
all ducks, but most wood ducks and mallards were counted in these areas.
Shoveler and pintails accounted for 50% of all ducks estimated during the survey with
ring-necked ducks (22%) and gadwall (16%) constituting the majority of other ducks counted.
Mallards, green- and blue-winged teal only made up 3% each.
All observable geese, whether on or off transect, were estimated opportunistically during
the course of the survey. An estimated 26,000 geese were observed which consisted of 21,000
white-fronted geese and 5,000 light geese (Ross’ and Snows). All light and white-fronted geese
were counted on flooded or dry agricultural fields. Less than 200 Canada geese were counted, all
on open water.
Overall, Northeast Louisiana is extremely dry, as is the entire state. Most agricultural
fields across the region were dry. Flooded, harvested crop fields across the landscape are
insignificant. Even if flooded, these areas wouldn’t provide much forage for wintering
waterfowl. Wetland Reserve Easements have some water, but even those are limited in the
region. Moist-soil units or shallow water wetlands offered little habitat throughout the region as
well. Public lands across the area were mostly dry due to both limited pumping, due to low
surface water availability, and the inability to achieve the volume necessary to achieve sufficient
water.
Private lands in areas such as Mer Rouge, Vidalia/Ferriday, Jonesville, and Deville,
which normally contain considerable wetland acres in November were almost completely devoid
of water. Private areas in Cheneyville, Hebert, and Bonita had much more water available for
waterfowl and is noted in the below “heatmaps” showing waterfowl densities in Northeast
Louisiana. Private landowners throughout the region have taken advantage of drought
conditions. Many small, shallow wetlands have been shredded or disked to prepare for waterfowl
season.

This habitat management will be beneficial to waterfowl in the future, given expected
levels of precipitation throughout winter. Additionally, many landowners were actively pumping
water in preparation for waterfowl season which should lead to much more available water in the
coming weeks.

Banded