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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 has 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.

Spring survey results

USFWS spring survey results

Mississippi River Fall survey

These numbers do not reflect the actual population of waterfowl represented on 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 model to extrapolate the population by species.

2020 and 2021 Surveys

Due to COVID-19 Restrictions the 2020 Mississippi River Fall survey was not conducted.

2019 Surveys

2018 Surveys

2017 Surveys

Historical data

Survey methodology

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, they can call:
Brenda Kelly
Mississippi River wildlife biologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management

Green Bay Fall survey

2021 Surveys

2020 Surveys

Due to COVID-19 Restrictions the 2020 Green Bay Fall survey was not conducted.

2019 Surveys

2018 Surveys

2017 Surveys

Survey methodology

Transects were flown 60 m above ground at approximately 90 knots parallel to the east and west shores with a nearshore and offshore transect line. All waterfowl were counted and recorded to species to the best of the observer’s abilities.

Green Bay biologist contact information

Josh Martinez
Green Bay wildlife biologist
Bureau of Wildlife Management

Notes from the Field

Northwest Wisconsin

Northeast Wisconsin

Southwest Wisconsin

Southeast Wisconsin

Provide your own 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 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 on 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

2019 Survey
2018 Survey
Historical data

Waterfowl hunter survey

This report presents 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

About 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 other 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 to this process is catching, collecting data and banding these birds, that's where volunteers can help.

Do you want to help 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 Jeff Williams or by phone at 608-261-6458 to learn about banding opportunities in your area.