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Banding Together for Waterfowl

North Dakota 2012 Spring Breeding Duck Survey

Spring Duck Index Up, Water Conditions Down
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  • photo by Michaelfurtman.com
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Story at a Glance
  • Green-winged teal (+221 percent) above LTA were at record highs
  • Wigeon (+88 percent) above LTA
  • 4.8 million birds, up 16 percent from last year and 112 percent above the long-term average (1948-2011).
  • Mallards, gadwall, blue-winged teal, shovelers, redheads and ruddy ducks exceeded the long-term average by more than 100 percent.
  • Only pintails, shovelers and canvasbacks were down more than 10 percent from last year
  • The 2012 index is the third highest on record.

"Water conditions were good in larger wetlands, but the lack of snow this past winter and the lack of significant spring rains reduced the number of temporary and seasonal wetlands," Szymanski said. "Undoubtedly, many wetlands dried up within days of completing the survey."
 
Additionally, nesting cover in North Dakota continues to decline. During the survey, Szymanski noted many large tracts of grassland and Conservation Reserve Program land had been converted to cropland since last year. "North Dakota currently has about 2.3 million acres of CRP, which is down about 30 percent from 2007," Szymanski added. "Projections are that more than 650,000 acres will be lost in 2012, and an additional 1.1 million acres will be lost in 2013-14. The loss of critical nesting cover will be disastrous for breeding ducks, other nesting birds and hunting opportunities in the future."
 
The July brood survey will provide a better idea of duck production and insight into expectations for this fall. Observations to date indicate prospects for good production across the state given abundant breeding pairs and average wetland conditions.
 
 

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