The spring waterfowl survey, conducted by the Canadian Wildlife Service and United States Fish and Wildlife Service, has been cancelled for the first time in 65 years.
Conducted annually since 1955, the survey was cancelled due to concerns about COVID-19 and employee safety. Also cancelled were the woodcock singing ground survey, Arctic goose banding program, and the mid-continent sandhill crane survey.
Hunting impact not anticipated
Although survey data is used to set regulations, Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters Biologist Dr Keith Munro didn’t expect there would be an impact on hunters this fall. He explained the regulations are set on a two-year cycle, so season dates and harvest limits have been set to the end of the 2021-2022 season.
Other jurisdictions are more dependent on the data for setting seasons, but Munro didn’t see insurmountable issues.
“Missing a single of year of data will likely not have a major impact because most species of waterfowl in Canada are part of long-term monitoring programs, have populations that are at or above their objectives, and are currently being harvested at sustainable levels,” he said.
“If needed, modeling could be used to bridge gaps in the data, as will be done in the United States. If COVID-19 leads to the cancelation of more than one year’s survey, this will need to be incorporated into management planning and the OFAH will make sure we are part of that discussion.”