Population management of waterfowl requires an understanding of the effects of changes in hunting regulations on harvest and survival rates. Mean survival and recovery rates of American black ducks (Anas rubripes) were estimated during 3 periods of increasingly restrictive harvest regulations: 1950-66, 1967-82, and 1983-93. From the first to the second period, direct recovery rates declined for at least 1 age class in 4 of 6 reference areas, with a mean decline of 14% for adult and 7% for immature black ducks. From the second to the third period, direct recovery rates declined in all areas, declines averaging 37% for adults and 27% for immatures. Estimated mean survival rates increased from the first to the second period, consistent with a model of additivity of hunting mortality. Limited evidence existed for increases in survival rates from the second to the third period for immature males. For adults, however, survival increased less between these periods than would be expected if hunting mortality were additive and changes in recovery rates were proportional to changes in hunting mortality. Changes in survival and recovery rates of black ducks banded postseason were similar to those of adults banded preseason. Comparisons among estimates by degree blocks of latitude and longitude indicate that, at least between 1967 and 1983, estimated survival rates of immature and adult black ducks were lower in areas with high direct recovery rates. Smaller samples of banded birds and changes in banding locations in recent years may be limiting ability to evaluate consequences of recent changes in harvest rates. These correlation-based studies are limited in their ability to explain causes of observed changes in survival rates, suggesting the need for alternative approaches such as adaptive harvest management to increase understanding of the effects of hunting on black duck populations.
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Effect of restrictive harvest regulations on survival and recovery rates of American black ducks