2016 Habitat Conditions
In general, habitat conditions during the 2016 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey were poorer than last year in the prairie states and provinces, and similar to or improved relative to 2015 in the eastern survey area, western boreal regions of the traditional survey area, and Alaska. The total pond estimate (Prairie Canada and U.S. combined) was 5.0 ± 0.2 million, which was 21% below the 2015 estimate of 6.3 ± 0.2 million, and similar to the long-term average of 5.2 ± 0.03 million
The Canadian prairies experienced below-average winter and spring precipitation and well above-average temperatures. The 2016 estimate of ponds in Prairie Canada was 3.5 ± 0.1 million. This estimate was 16% below the 2015 estimate of 4.2 ± 0.1 million and similar to the long-term average (3.5 ± 0.02 million).
Nearly all of the of the U.S. prairies experienced below-average precipitation, with the exception of southeastern South Dakota, where early spring precipitation ameliorated multiple years of drought. These weather patterns were reflected by decreases in pond estimates throughout the prairie pothole region. Most prairie and parkland regions were at best fair for waterfowl production; only areas dominated by semi-permanent and permanent wetlands were rated good. The 2016 pond estimate for the northcentral U.S. was 1.5 ± 0.05 million, which was 30% below the 2015 estimate of 2.2 ± 0.09 million and 11% below the long-term average (1.7 ± 0.01 million).