Montana event participants help with research while enjoying one remote refuge

Band a duck/catch a trout visits Red Rock Lakes Refuge

LIMA, Mont., Oct. 5, 2015 - How many times do you get the opportunity to help with duck research, go fly fishing in a pristine Montana river, or visit what has been called the most beautiful refuge in the country? This fall's participants in DU's Band a Duck/Catch a Trout major sponsor event in the Centennial Valley had a chance to do all three.

The group joined Jeff Warren with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and Cody Deane, a graduate student with Montana State University at the Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge, near Lima, Montana, in capturing and marking young lesser scaup as part of a long-term FWS research project. Scaup populations are continuing to decline, however scaup on the Red Rock Lakes Refuge are thriving. FWS is trying to find out what it is about the remote refuge that is helping build populations.

"Capturing scaup is an all-day affair, and the data are recorded as part of an ongoing study," said Abby Dresser, DU biologist in Montana who helps plan the event. "It's really great that the participants can be part of scientific research – they get trained to handle and measure birds, becoming a research team member for the day."

The Montana experience also included fly-fishing on the Upper Maddison, which is one of Montana's blue ribbon trout rivers. The river is one of the most productive streams in Montana for several fish species and can carry upwards of 3,000 fish per mile.

The participants from Texas and California also learned about DU's work, particularly in Montana and across the prairies.