Waterfowl management

A mallard hen with her chicks swimming in spring

Minnesota not only boasts 23 species of ducks and geese, about 60% of North America's migratory birds pass through the state during their journeys each spring and fall along the Mississippi Flyway.

DNR waterfowl management focuses on providing high-quality habitat for those nesting, brood rearing and migrating birds. Working at the state, regional and national levels, our work actively promotes abundant duck populations, the high-quality habitats they need, clean water and soil conservation benefits and opportunities for outdoor recreation.

Help us update the duck action plan

Duck action plan

Cover from the published version of the current Duck Action PlanThe DNR's Duck Action Plan identifies goals, objectives and strategies to be implemented and identifies strategic issues that influence duck conservation. The plan's goals are to:

  1. Increase the amount of wetland and grassland habitat for ducks.
  2. Maintain and enhance wetland, grassland and forest habitats for ducks.
  3. Increase opportunities for and participation in outdoor recreation related to ducks and their habitats.
  4. Increase public awareness and appreciation of wetland conservation for ducks and people.

The Duck Action Plan builds off of the DNR's long-range Duck Recovery Plan.

Waterfowl habitat

Wetland habitat in Minnesota.Whether it's a large collaborative plan like the multi-organizational Prairie Conservation Plan, restoring wetlands, reclaiming shallow lakes, practicing moist soils management or individual landowners stepping up to be stewards, conserving and enhancing habitat is an integral part of managing and maintaining waterfowl in Minnesota.

Waterfowl hunting

Waterfowl hunters waiting for ducks to come in rangeWaterfowl hunting is more than harvesting a feathered target. It's about building a blind, setting decoys, embracing the fall wind and rejoicing at the sound of wings.

Mallards, woodies, redheads, scaup, ringnecks, teal and pintails still rest, feed and breed in Minnesota. Those birds offer opportunities to be part of the generations-old fall tradition of crouching in duck blinds and hiding along marshy shores.

Waterfowl in Minnesota

Minnesota's waterfowl population – both nesting and migratory – is varied and abundant. You'll find puddle and diving ducks, a giant subspecies of Canada goose that nests here and several variety of mergansers.

You'll also see loons, swans, pelicans, storks, herons, cranes and cormorants – migratory waterfowl and shorebirds that spend significant time in Minnesota's fields, forests, waters and wetlands.

Waterfowl research

A Canada goose with a neck bandThe Wetland Wildlife Populations and Research Group is responsible for providing information needed to manage waterfowl. Research biologists and scientists coordinate and interpret population surveys; conduct research projects that provide critical information; and provide technical assistance and information for DNR and the public.

Human dimension surveys such as the 2017 survey of hunter activity and opinion that explore the attitudes, experiences and understanding of people also are a part of their work.

Population monitoring

A mixed flock of ducks resting and flying over a wetland.Since 1968, the number of breeding waterfowl in Minnesota have been estimated as part of the DNR’s annual breeding population summary.

Aerial observations in addition to more intensive ground counts on selected routes are conducted in May. The count in Minnesota is included in the overall inventory of North American breeding waterfowl.

Reports & statistics


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