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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Interior Highlands of Mexico - More Information

Background information on DU's Interior Highlands of Mexico conservation priority area

Importance to other wildlife

The USFWS, 1997 surveys in Mexico, recorded among the Interior Highlands, 60,495 American coot, 13,650 sandhill cranes, 11,450 white pelicans, 9,615 white faced ibis, 6,846 avocets and 5,605 black-necked stilt. In the Northern Highlands there were 14,430 coots, 13,650 sandhill cranes, 820 white pelicans, 120 white-faced ibis, 91 avocets and 30 black-necked stilt. In the Central Highlands, 46,065 coots, 10,630 pelicans, 9,495 ibis, 6,755 avocets and 5,575 stilts were reported.

The Babicora Lagoon in the state of Chihuahua, accounts for 364 species of wildlife and 476 species of vascular plants (Lafon 1996). The Babicora Lagoon, is used by 4 million migratory birds during the spring, and 500,000 during the winter. The average population of waterfowl is 122,000 ducks, geese and cranes. This lagoon represents the most important wintering habitat for the snow goose and the sandhill crane in Mexico, with an annual population of 19,000 snow geese and 25,000 sandhill cranes.

Conservation programs

Interior freshwater wetlands are managed by watersheds to protect the natural wetland basins. Sustainable land uses in watersheds are critical such as the planned development of forestry and agriculture plans around key wetlands. Work of this nature is being carried out near Babicora, Chihuahua. with the University of Chihuahua and with the University of Guadalajara in the Cuitzeo Lagoon, Michoacan. In addition, DU should work to protect those key areas for waterfowl. A close interaction with state and federal agencies will be needed to facilitate this effort.

The Interior Highlands have large concentrations of natural depressions used by waterfowl. Because many of these natural habitats have been lost or modified for agriculture uses, conservation of the few remaining natural and created wetlands is crucial for wintering waterfowl. The ini' habitat Initiative is designed to support this need and is directed towards private landowners. This initiative will provide habitat for both wintering and resident waterfowl.

More accurate and systematic waterfowl surveys and habitat evaluation are needed. Although the main areas for waterfowl in Mexico are surveyed every three years, the importance of the habitat in Mexico for waterfowl is underestimated. For example, the recent surveys for white-fronted geese by the USFWS found an average of 20,000 to 25,000 geese on the Northern Highlands. More thorough surveys by the CWS and other Mexican institutions found more than 200,000 birds. Better information is needed to determine the best sites for wintering and resident waterfowl.

A public awareness program is needed within this region, to motivate social participation and involvement, which will facilitate the success of future wetland conservation initiatives.


  • Protect and manage the most important habitats for waterfowl in the Northern and Central Highlands.


  • Strengthen partnerships with state and federal governments and with local and national non-government organizations to support wetland conservation initiatives.
  • Serve as a source of information to support decision-making on programs that influence wetlands conservation.
  • Develop a private lands program, based on the Mini-habitat Wetland Conservation Initiative.
  • Provide other partners with GIS map products to support their conservation initiatives.
  • Work with universities and research institutions to develop information needed to support wetland and waterfowl conservation.
  • Develop a public awareness program to support wetland conservation efforts.

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