By Rob Spangler, USFWS pilot biologist
, Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana
We have finished our survey this year and headed back home to our families and offices. Overall, the better conditions have continued throughout the survey area compared with last year, which will benefit waterfowl this year. In central Montana we did observe dryer conditions with higher percentages of dry natural wetlands and artificial basins at 50 – 70% of capacity, whereas basins in the extreme eastern and western portions of the survey area were at or near capacity. Because of the large number of artificial wetlands (stock dams and dugouts), sometimes it can be more useful to describe these as percent full rather than a total count of wetlands. We were fortunate this year to experience better weather and had fewer days down because of rain, fog, or wind. Last year, we spent an extra week in Malta, Montana, due to weather. Thanks to our ground crew of Pam Garrettson, Brent West, and Brenda Kelly – they all did an outstanding job and it was a pleasure to work with them. See you next year!
Western portion of our survey area in Eastern Montana - better conditions. Photo by Rob Spangler, USFWS
East central Montana dry basin. Photo by Rob Spangler, USFWS