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The total number of ducks estimated during the annual January waterfowl survey in South Carolina increased by 139 percent over the previous year, according to Tommy Strange, Waterfowl Project leader for the S. C. Department of Natural Resources. Each year during the first 10 days of January, state, federal and private organizations across the United States and Mexico count waterfowl in specified areas in order to establish a population index. "This survey has been conducted since 1955," Strange said, "and although the database is known to be inexact, it does provide good trend estimates of waterfowl numbers, particularly over longer time periods." The number of ducks estimated in South Carolina this year was 110,234. Although this survey number was up significantly over January 2000, it is still far short of the 37-year average of 219,226. The highest count on record is 525,800. The increased count this year is reflected in the 234 percent increase in diving ducks and 48 percent increase in dabbling or puddle ducks. Scaup numbers were increased by 150 percent to 11,948. This scaup population estimate varied during the season, and it is estimated that there were between 30,000-35,000 scaup in offshore waters during the Atlantic Flyway sea duck survey that was conducted late in January. Dabbling duck species as a group were increased by 48 percent in 2001, with significant percentage increases noted in gadwall, wigeon, green-winged teal, blue-winged teal and northern shovelers. The mallard count was essentially unchanged. Inland habitat in South Carolina has changed, and migrational patterns within and outside the state have also changed. These factors have some effect on the mid-winter survey, but the magnitude of the effect is currently unknown. Waterfowl hunters, biologists, and administrators had hoped that the extended period of cold weather to the north and northwest of South Carolina would greatly increase the number of webfoot travelers to the Palmetto State. Hunters in the ACE Basin reported a particularly successful year with other areas within the state reporting moderate success, a welcome increase over recent years.

Uploaded: 2/14/2001