Don’t Shoot The Mottled Duck

Duck hunters in Texas will have to keep an eye peeled for dusky ducks and fingers off the trigger during the first five days of the season again this year, as concern about the mottled duck populations have again forced a delay in harvest. A dusky is defined as a mottled duck, Mexican-like duck, black duck and their hybrids.

Over the last decade, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has held Texas and Louisiana to a harvest reduction of West Gulf Coast population of mottled ducks, citing a need for additional conservation based on estimated population declines. This is the result of major storms in recent years and continued habitat loss. We have written extensively on mottled ducks and look for a special article on this species in the current print and digital edition of Texas Fish & Game.

Speaking of these Texas native birds, here is some interesting information from a respected source.

An article in Southeastern Naturalist reported on a study by Ruth M. Elsey, Phillip L. Trosclair III and Jeb T. Linscombe on the predation of mottled ducks on alligators.

“Although the alligator has been noted to prey upon mottled ducks, evidence of Mottled Duck consumption is rare in numerous studies of alligator food habits. This may be due to the season and habitat from which alligators were collected for evaluation (often autumn samples from deep water habitats preferred by adult alligators). We examined stomach contents of alligators in summer (when Mottled Duck broods and molting adults are flightless) from shallow water habitats preferred by Mottled Ducks. Mottled Duck remains were found in 20.9 percent of 43 alligator stomachs examined, far more than the highest frequency occurrence previously reported (1.27 percent). Unexpectedly, three relatively small alligators (1.51–1.70 m total length) consumed Mottled Ducks and the sixteen largest alligators did not. This study underscores the importance of season and location of collections when evaluating stomach content data.”

TF&G Staff

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