National Migratory Bird Harvest Survey
National Migratory Bird Harvest Survey

What do we learn from harvest surveys?

Hunters provide information that helps set annual hunting regulations, ensuring both the best possible opportunities for hunting and healthy waterfowl populations. The Harvest Survey tells us how many people hunted in each state, how many days, when and in what county they hunted, and how many birds were harvested. Someone registering for the Harvest Information Program (HIP) might wonder: "I get asked questions about my hunting when I register, is that all there is to the survey?" No!   The Harvest Survey has been conducted for over 50 years, including years with short hunting seasons, years with long hunting seasons, various daily bag limits, and a range of season dates.

State waterfowl hunting by the numbers (10-year average)

Select a state on the map

We use the Harvest Survey to estimate harvest and hunting effort. For example, we multiply the average number of ducks shot, as reported on the Harvest Survey, by the number of duck hunters to estimate the number of ducks shot in each state. How do we know the number of waterfowl hunters in a state?

Harvest Survey participants tell us the days they hunted and how many birds they harvested each day. This information allows state wildlife agencies to choose the hunting dates that will provide the best hunting, because a state agency can look at the number of birds shot on each date for the past, say, 10 years, to figure out when the most birds are harvested in their state, and set their season to cover those dates.

Weekly harvest by region (10-year average)

Select a region on the map

Information about where birds are harvested is also important. Duck harvest is high in areas where there are lots of ducks, and that's because those areas have good duck habitat. So, the Harvest Survey can help the USFWS, state wildlife agencies, and other partners decide where they should use their resources to protect, maintain, and improve critical wetland habitats for waterfowl.

The Harvest Survey covers 3,115 counties/census units in the Contiguous U.S. Over the past 10 years, the survey has recorded duck harvest in 86% of these units, and goose harvest in 69%. Units with no harvest reported may see harvest at rates too low to be recorded by the survey.

Waterfowl harvest by county

Click on a county for more information, double click or mouse scroll to zoom
  • Duck Rankings
  • Goose Rankings
Low harvest High harvest

Estimating harvest, hunter effort, and where birds are harvested are not the only pieces of information we can collect through Harvest Surveys. We also gather species-specific information about some migratory game species.

Did you know ducks can be identified using just a wing? Yes, it's true!  Click here to watch videos on identifying ducks by wing!


This content was developed through a collaboration between staff from the USFWS Migratory Bird Program and USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. The project was kicked off at an internal 2017 National Civic Day of Hacking event held at PWRC. Participants included Tony Bethea, Theo Burton, Tony Celis-Murillo, Chris Deets, Rob Fowler, Pam Garrettson, Kayt Jonsson, Jenn Malpass, Derek Masaki, Paul Padding, Bob Raftovich, Becky Rau, Emily Silverman, Alli Sussman, Khristi Wilkins, and Nathan Zimpfer.