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The northern pintail in North America: status and conservation needs of a struggling population

Wildlife Society Bulletin

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Abstract

The number of northern pintails (Anas acuta) in North America continues to be low despite sub- stantially improved wetland habitat conditions as recorded by the May Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (May Survey, United States Fish and Wildlife Service [USFWS] 1998; Figure 1). In 1993-97, following extended drought during the 1980s and early 1990s, favorable precipitation pat- terns returned to the critical waterfowl nesting areas of the northern Great Plains of the United States (U.S.) and Canada (USFWS 1997), the area known as the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR, Bellrose 1980). Historically, when the number of wetlands (May ponds) counted on the May Survey increased in the PPR, pintail breeding populations (BPOP) also increased (e.g., Smith 1970). However, even though May ponds attained record high levels  1996 and 1997, the expected increase in pintail populations did not occur (Figure 1). Even after a 30% increase in the BPOP between 1996 and 1997, pintails remained 19% below the long-term average and 36% below the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP) goal of 5.6 million (USFWS et al. 1994); additionally, peaks and lows in pintail BPOP have been successively lower since 1955-56 (Figure 1). In contrast, all other PPR-nest- ing dabbling ducks (tribe Anatini) rebounded in the 1990s to levels that exceeded objectives set by NAWMP (USFWS 1997). The minimal recovery of pintails is perplexing, given the very large popula- tions attained during previous periods of abundant May ponds (Figure 1).

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
The northern pintail in North America: status and conservation needs of a struggling population
Series title:
Wildlife Society Bulletin
Volume:
27
Issue:
3
Year Published:
1999
Language:
English
Publisher:
Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s):
Western Ecological Research Center
Description:
13 p.
First page:
788
Last page:
800