The Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis) is a medium-sized monotypic sea duck found across the Northern Hemisphere. They nest near pools, lakes and coastal marshes in the Arctic zones of North America, Europe, and Sibera. Long-tailed Ducks (LTDU) winter along the coasts of North America, northern Europe, and Asia, as well as the Great Lakes. Invertebrates make up the majority of the diet and LTDU are regarded as one of the deepest diving waterfowl.
The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recently listed LTDU as “Vulnerable” due to rapid declines in the Baltic Sea wintering population and a concern that additional wintering populations may be at risk. The specific causes of the decline are unclear but low reproductive success, habitat degradation, pollution, climate change and over harvest may all have a role. While the North American population is still estimated at approximately one million birds, concerns about declines in wintering numbers of Long-tailed Duck in the Northeast and the listing of the species have led to recent discussions of initiating restrictions on overall LTDU daily harvest limits and a more restrictive female LTDU harvest.
The Connecticut coastline is a wintering site for LTDU and a regulated hunting season is permitted. There is little data available indicating how many LTDU are harvested in Connecticut each season and what percentage of the harvest are females. The Conservancy, in collaboration with the Connecticut Waterfowler’s Association (CWA), initiated a small-scale harvest survey in Norwalk, Connecticut. The study sought to quantify the dynamics of the LTDU harvest, including: age/sex ratios, hunting effort, and hunter opinions related to LTDU hunting. The results of this study have been the most detailed available on the harvest of LTDU in Connecticut and are an important contribution to the collective understanding of LTDU harvest. The data has been helpful in formulating future LTDU harvest management practices in Connecticut and the Northeast.