The mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is the most harvested duck in North America. A topic of debate among hunters, especially those in Arkansas, USA, is whether wintering distributions of mallards have changed in recent years. We examined distributions of mallards in the Mississippi (MF) and Central Flyways during hunting seasons 1980-2003 to determine if and why harvest distributions changed. We used Geographic Information Systems to analyze spatial distributions of band recoveries and harvest estimated using data from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Parts Collection Survey. Mean latitudes of band recoveries and harvest estimates showed no significant trends across the study period. Despite slight increases in band recoveries and harvest on the peripheries of kernel density estimates, most harvest occurred in eastern Arkansas and northwestern Mississippi, USA, in all years. We found no evidence for changes in the harvest distributions of mallards. We believe that the late 1990s were years of exceptionally high harvest in the lower MF and that slight shifts northward since 2000 reflect a return to harvest distributions similar to those of the early 1980s. Our results provide biologists with possible explanations to hunter concerns of fewer mallards available for harvest.
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Mallard harvest distributions in the Mississippi and Central Flyways