By MIKE CORN
Stuffy as it might seem by its title, the report "Trends in Duck Breeding Populations, 1955-2009" is almost enough to make a person belt out a chorus of "Old MacDonald Had a Farm."
"With a quack quack here and a quack quack there,
"Here a quack, there a quack, ev'rywhere a quack quack."
Indeed, based on the report just issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there will be quacks virtually everywhere. Bottom line, the report offered pretty much only good news as far as ducks are concerned, according to Faye McNew, waterfowl biologist for the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
* Total duck numbers, excluding scoters, eiders, mergansers and wood ducks, was 42 million, a 13 percent increase over last year and 25 percent above the long-term average.
* Mallards stood at 8.5 million, a 10 percent increase over last year and 13 percent above the long-term average.
* Gadwall, at 3.1 million, was similar to the 2008 estimae, but 73 percent above the long-term average.
* American wigeon was similar to last year, but down slightly long-term.
* Blue-winged teal was similar to last year, but 79 percent above long-term.
* Northern shovelers were 25 percent above the 2008 estimate and 92 percent above long-term average.
* Northern pintails were 23 percent above the 2008 estimate, but 20 percent below long-term average.
* Redheads are similar to last year, but 62 percent above long-term average.
* Canvasback was 35 percent above the 2008 estimate and similar to the long-term average.
* Scaup numbers are similar to last year, and 18 percent below the long term average.
"It's really good news for ducks this year," McNew said of what the report is showing.
And it shows that the drought in the Dakotas has either been broken, or relented for a bit.
It's also likely that Kansas hunters will have a better chance of hunting ducks this year, both in terms of more days to hunt but also a bigger bag limit.
Seasons have not yet been set, she said, but the FWS will be sending along the Kansas option, and McNew expects it will be the liberal option of a 74-day season.
KDWP likely will be informed by the end of the month that it will be allowed to have what is considered a liberal season.
Had duck numbers been down dramatically, the seasons could have either been moderate or restricted, 60 or 39 days.
How bag limits will be set is also up in the air, pending the return of survey data.
In the past, there has been a "hunter's choice" bag limit, an experimental selection. But that experiment has ended and KDWP needs the survey information to forward along to FWS.
McNew is hoping the hunter's choice bag limit will be supported by the survey data and can be used in the future.
"Hunter's like it," she said.
With the good breeding report, McNew said the outlook for ducks in Kansas is good as well.
"I think it will be good to excellent," she said. "We have good reports from wetlands areas."
If rains fall in August and September, as the ducks prepare to move south for the winter, the prospects will improve.
"If somebody can make it rain, that would be good," she said.