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North Dakota Waterfowl Survey Shows Wet Conditions, Increased Number of Breeding Ducks


BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — What a distinction a 12 months could make. In 2021, North Dakota was abnormally dry. The annual May wetland index carried out by the North Dakota Fish and Game Department registered the fifth-driest 12 months previously 75 years. This 12 months, the North Dakota spring water index reveals circumstances are the second-wettest within the historical past of the survey — up 616 p.c from 2021.

Major snow occasions and extended soaking rains on this winter and spring — April had the second-most precipitation recorded previously 128 years — have recharged parched wetlands all through the state. The abundance of water throughout North Dakota is good news for breeding geese, and in flip, for duck hunters.

“The actually moist circumstances will assist in inciting nesting and persevering with that effort all through spring,” stated Mike Szymanski, migratory recreation fowl supervisor for the NDFGD. “Ponds which might be necessary for brood-rearing habitat have rebounded properly. Things are wanting fairly good for duck manufacturing prospects.”

The survey confirmed 3.4 million complete geese, a 16 p.c improve from 2021. Duck numbers for North Dakota are 38 p.c above the long-term common. Mallards elevated 58 p.c, whereas pintails have been up 108 p.c and shovelers registered 126 p.c greater than final 12 months. Most species confirmed will increase, though blue-winged teal have been down 4 p.c, wigeon have been 10 p.c decrease and gadwalls declined by 36 p.c.

“Waterfowl managers from North Dakota Fish and Game, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service have all noticed that loads of wetlands are devoid of geese this spring,” stated Dr. Chris Nicolai, waterfowl scientist for Delta Waterfowl. “That means that we’ve got extra water obtainable this spring than geese to fill them, which isn’t stunning given the poor manufacturing within the Prairie Pothole Region final 12 months.”

Numbers of breeding Canada geese in North Dakota have been the second highest ever recorded, though a late-April blizzard possible damage nesting efforts. Geese nest sooner than geese, so manufacturing may be decrease because of this of the storm.

Duck manufacturing needs to be sturdy in North Dakota, and positively improved in Manitoba and jap Saskatchewan too, based on Dr. Frank Rohwer, president of Delta Waterfowl.

“I feel we’re going to have an unimaginable manufacturing 12 months,” he stated. “We’re already seeing proof of a powerful nesting effort the jap Dakotas. It needs to be an enormous enchancment popping out of final 12 months’s drought. It actually bodes properly for a superb duck season.”

The USFWS and CWS are finishing and compiling information for the 2022 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey, which had been on hiatus for the previous two years as a result of of issues about COVID-19. The outcomes are anticipated to be launched in August.

North Dakota is the main state for duck manufacturing, so a powerful breeding effort will feed geese to all 4 flyways.

“It’ll be thrilling to check the North Dakota survey outcomes to the broader federal survey this 12 months,” Nicolai stated. “There’s a really excessive potential for banner duck manufacturing, particularly for prairie nesting geese equivalent to mallards, pintails, blue-winged teal, shovelers, gadwalls and redheads.”

Delta Waterfowl is The Duck Hunters Organization, a number one conservation group working to provide geese and safe the long run of waterfowl looking in North America. Visit deltawaterfowl.org.


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