Over the past 20 years or so, Texas waterfowlers have witnessed - and waterfowl managers have documented and wrestled with - some dramatic shifts and trends in abundance and distribution of the ducks and geese that each autumn pour down the Central Flyway to winter in the state. That perspective is strikingly underscored by results of Texas' 2018 Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey. That aerial population survey, conducted in early January each year and covering all of the state except for the waterfowl-poor Edwards Plateau and Trans-Pecos ecological regions, produced some sobering findings. The estimated total number of ducks wintering in the surveyed regions was 3.03 million birds. That represents a 50 percent decline from the 2017 estimate of 6.12 million ducks and is 25 percent below the 1997-2017 average. In the 22 years the Texas mid-winter survey has been conducted using the same methodology, only three have seen fewer wintering ducks on the Texas landscape.
This year's survey estimated the coastal region, which covers the marshes, prairies and bays from the Louisiana border to and including Baffin Bay/Upper Laguna Madre, held just 521,000 ducks when observers flew the survey. That is the lowest number of ducks counted on the coast during the survey's history, 76 percent fewer ducks than the 2017 survey and barely one-third the 1.4 million ducks the region has averaged over the past 22 years.
Source: Houston Chronicle, February 7, 2018