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Ducks Unlimited biologists have reported that states in the Mississippi Flyway saw an earlier than usual migration in early November, and ducks either continued on or retreated into many rest areas along the way.
Recent counts by biologists in Missouri and Illinois indicate numbers well below their long-term average for December. Missouri did note an increase in its most recent counts in the southern third of the state, which might bode well for Arkansas.
The Missouri Department of Conservation's most recent report, which came out Monday, indicated that ground counts of ducks in the three conservation areas closest to Arkansas, in the southeast portion of Missouri, indicated nearly 45,000 ducks on Ten Mile Pond Conservation Area, 12,000 ducks on Coon Island CA and 3,900 ducks on Little River CA. The totals at Ten Mile Pond were significantly up from an early December count. But the upper third of the state had fallen off in duck numbers, the MDC said.
The Dec. 24 count in Missouri’s Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge was 175,000 ducks, with 172,000 being mallards.
Louisiana's coastal and coastal WMA survey in November reported a count of 79,204 waterfowl, the second lowest estimate in November since 2004, and approximately 48% (or 85,420 ducks) below the long-term average from 2004-2019 of 164,624.
Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge contained 77% of all waterfowl observed during the surveys. No other WMA or refuge accounted for greater than 8%, according to Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries.
The 2019-20 Southern Illinois aerial survey on Dec. 10 counted almost 71,000 ducks in that region of the state, but well below the 10-year long-term average for the survey period of nearly 112,000 ducks.