Wisconsin waterfowl surveys
Spring waterfowl survey
Spring survey overview
Decisions regarding hunting season structure and harvest limits in waterfowl management have a long history of being based in part upon spring breeding pair surveys. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey have been conducted for 63 years across the traditional survey area of the north-central United States, Canada and Alaska. The Wisconsin Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey, which is modeled after the continental survey, has been conducted for 45 years and provides a long-term measure of waterfowl breeding trends in Wisconsin. This data is used at the national and state level for monitoring waterfowl populations and making management decisions.
USFWS spring survey results
Mississippi River Fall survey
These numbers do not reflect the actual population of waterfowl represented in the individual pools that were surveyed. This data represents only a sample of the population, determined by flying individual transects. The purpose of sampling utilizing transects is to gauge a subset of the population, then the model to extrapolate the population by species.
The 2022 surveys were discontinued due to weather conditions and the ability to safely complete low-level flights during the identified survey periods of mid-October and November. For more information on fall waterfowl numbers around the state, including the Mississippi River, please see our Notes from the Field section and the statewide early-November report .
2020 and 2021 Surveys
Due to COVID-19 Restrictions, the 2020 and 2021 Mississippi River Fall surveys were not conducted.
2017-2019 Survey Report
Strip transects are flown in Mississippi River Pools 4-14, 45 m above ground and at 90 knots. Two observers survey each side of the plane and count all waterfowl, which includes ducks, geese and swans for a total distance of 400 meters.
Mississippi River contact information
- Any questions call:
- Brenda Kelly
Mississippi River Wildlife Biologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management
Green Bay Fall survey
Due to COVID-19 Restrictions, the 2020 Green Bay Fall survey was not conducted.
Transects were flown 60 m above ground at approximately 90 knots parallel to the east and west shores with nearshore and offshore transect line. All waterfowl were counted and recorded to species to the best of the observer’s abilities.
Notes from the Field
- Statewide late-November report 12/2/22
- Statewide early-November report 11/18/22
- Statewide late-October report 11/4/22
- Statewide mid-October report 10/21/22
- Statewide post-opener report 10/7/22
- Statewide pre-opener report 9/23/22
- Final season summary
Provide your observations
This is a survey designed for hunters to provide information on their hunting experience throughout the waterfowl hunting seasons in Wisconsin. Information gathered from this survey will help the department improve its abilities to actively manage waterfowl populations and improve the hunting experience for waterfowl hunters. Hunters can directly provide feedback to the department to help inform future hunting season structures and recommendations by submitting their thoughts.
You may take this survey as many times as you want throughout the season
Mid-winter waterfowl survey
Mid-winter survey overview
The Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey is a nationwide effort to survey waterfowl in areas of a major concentration on their wintering grounds and provide winter distribution and habitat affiliations. This survey also serves as a primary source of data on population trends for some species that breed in remote Arctic locations and are difficult to survey using traditional methods. Therefore abundance indices for some of these species are obtained from surveys of wintering areas. For species not covered in other population surveys, these indices provide direct inputs into management programs such as harvest management plans.
Mid-winter survey results
Waterfowl hunter survey
This report presents the results of a statewide survey of Wisconsin resident waterfowl hunters and conservation patron license holders regarding their waterfowl hunting behaviors and opinions regarding various aspects of waterfowl hunting and regulations in Wisconsin. The study was conducted to support the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s waterfowl management program. This report presents the study findings, interprets the information within pertinent contexts and may identify potentially useful lines of inquiry. This report does not, however, include specific recommendations or policy prescriptions.
2019 Wisconsin hunter survey results
2017 Wisconsin hunter survey results
2015 Wisconsin hunter survey results
2013 Wisconsin hunter survey results
Volunteer with waterfowl banding
Every year DNR staff bands 8,000-12,000 migratory game birds. Information gathered from the bird can then be used in developing models that utilize banding and recovery data to predict the impacts of harvest and another take, as well as develop an understanding of environmental factors that drive migratory bird populations. Data collected from each bird can be used to estimate age-, sex-, and species-specific survival probability, harvest rate, derivation of harvest, recovery rate and band reporting rate for each species. The first step in this process is catching, collecting data and banding these birds, that's where volunteers can help.
Do you want to help the waterfowl band?
Most banding stations look for volunteers every year who can lend a hand for an hour or two. Banding begins in late July and runs through the last day in August in most areas. If you are interested in waterfowl banding please contact the assistant migratory game bird ecologist Allicyn Nelson by email or by phone at 608-261-6458 to learn about banding opportunities in your area.