Final year of Bakken research underway

Prairie Pothole Region research update

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Researchers on second round of pair surveys.

Ducks Unlimited has begun its third and final year of breeding waterfowl research in the Bakken areas of North Dakota and Montana. The data from this project will inform DU staff and other conservation organizations about the impacts of oil and gas development on waterfowl production in the Prairie Pothole Region.

Six technicians from across the United States began counting duck pairs in late April, and they will continue surveying and entering data until mid-June. Once the pair research finishes, the crew will begin counting broods (a hen and her ducklings) with the help of eight additional crew members.

Increased snowfall in the region during the winter months provided more water on the ground for waterfowl during the initial weeks of surveys. DU biologists report initially seeing more ducks this year than last, however wetlands have started drying up during the researchers’ second round of plot visits.

While conducting surveys, each technician visits about 40 wetlands every day, walking between eight to 10 miles each day. DU appreciates their hard work, as well as the support of private landowners in the area. We would not be able to conduct our research without their continued participation. Additionally, support from our partners has been critical to the continuation of this project. We thank the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Habitat and Population Evaluation Team, N.D. Game and Fish, Central Flyways Council, Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, and Enbridge Minnesota Association of Resource Conservation and Development Councils.