The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has made the difficult decision to cancel participation in the Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey (WBPHS or May Survey) this year that was scheduled to start May 1st. Similarly, the Canadian Wildlife Service and several state and provincial agencies have also cancelled their participation for 2020.
Decisions to cancel the May Survey and other migratory bird monitoring this spring were based on the priority of protecting the health and safety of the American public, our partners, and our employees. In addition, severe domestic and international travel restrictions also made many operations impossible. The Fish and Wildlife Service gave serious consideration to implementation of partial surveys but ultimately concluded that the development of analytical procedures to inform 2021-2022 hunting season recommendations using the most current and complete data was a more defensible and reliable strategy given ongoing and unpredictable COVID-19 restrictions.
The Service will work with the Flyway Councils and Canadian Wildlife Service to develop alternative, temporary methods for formulating harvest recommendations in the absence of spring 2020 breeding population data. Steps have already begun towards developing adjustments to Adaptive Harvest Management strategies for the 2021-2022 duck seasons. Adjustments to goose, Sandhill Crane, American Woodcock, and dove harvest strategies will also be necessary and are being considered.
Frequently asked questions with provided answers are below: