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Banding Together for Waterfowl



Understanding Waterfowl: A Matter of Productivity

Biologists have known for decades that native prairie with a high wetland density is the gold standard for producing ducks. Large expanses of unbroken grassland offer secure upland cover for ground-nesting hens, and numerous small, shallow wetlands provide the invertebrate food resources female ducks need to produce eggs and successfully raise their broods. While both grass and water are important to breeding waterfowl, wetlands often prove to be the most unpredictable resources on the landscape.

Migration Alert: Snow Goose Numbers Build in North Dakota

The spring snow goose migration is gaining momentum in North Dakota, as light goose numbers continue to build throughout the state. The open waters at Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern North Dakota attracted a massive concentration of snow geese last weekend, says refuge biologist Christine Askerooth.

DU’s research crew family

Cindy Anchor, a Pennsylvania native with a degree in fisheries and wildlife biology, just finished her second summer of research with Ducks Unlimited (DU) in the Bakken formation area of the Prairie Pothole Region. One of three crew leaders, her crew frequently and affectionately referred to her as “Mom," as something like a family formed.

DU researchers back in the Bakken for brood survey

The Ducks Unlimited research crew returned to the Bakken area of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) August 3 to start round two of the brood survey. They will revisit 64 study plots with nearly 4,000 wetlands. “In this round we’re targeting later-nesting species,” said DU research scientist Tanner Gue. “The two rounds of brood surveys allow us to assess production of all the most common nesting ducks in the PPR.”

USGS study says draining small PPR wetlands may increase flooding

A recent study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey found that draining smaller wetlands in North Dakota’s stretch of the Prairie Pothole Region has weakened the ability of wetlands to provide flood control and waterfowl habitat.

DU Research Update: Techs finish first stage of brood survey

Our crew of 15 started our two-week brood survey July 1 and just finished. This period differs from the pair survey in that we survey two different times during the day. The first is before sunrise until noon, and then we complete our disturbance evaluation. Needing to wait until 4 p.m. to start the second survey of the day, we find creative places to take naps and eat lunch. Tired technicians with wet and worn out feet are capable of taking naps just about anywhere.

Life as a nest-cam intern

John Palarski and Nick Conrad’s mornings began this summer at 7:30 a.m. with the loading of their ATVs, just outside their rented lodge in Goodrich, N.D. They packed video cameras, batteries, GPS devices, flags and stakes, a drag chain, egg candler and paper bag lunches. They strapped everything down, flicked yesterday’s ticks from their helmets and with the morning still cool, set off for the Ducks Unlimited Coteau Ranch, where they had been conducting research on duck nesting behaviors.

DU protects 800-acre block of habitat near South Dakota’s Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Ducks Unlimited (DU) has acquired another important piece of waterfowl habitat just west of the Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge headquarters. The 160-acre property is adjacent to both the Higgins and Columbia properties now in DU’s Revolving Land Program. With the addition of the Weismantel tract, DU will have protected an 800-acre block of habitat from three tracts a mile from Sand Lake, one of the most important waterfowl refuges in North America.

DU restoring significant waterfowl habitat in Sanborn County

Ducks Unlimited recently acquired two important waterfowl habitat properties in Sanborn County, about two miles apart from each other. The 524-acre Summit Ag Fund property is located approximately seven miles southeast of Woonsocket, and the 160-acre Bennett property is three miles northwest of Letcher. This area of Sanborn County contains a rich network of wetland habitats that attract large numbers of breeding waterfowl when water conditions are suitable.

DU to protect Hyde County property, rich with wetlands

Ducks Unlimited (DU) recently acquired the 320-acre Hahn property in Hyde County, approximately 10 miles northwest of Highmore. DU will restore and permanently protect the property as part of its Revolving Land Program.

DU research team covering ground with brood survey

The Ducks Unlimited research crew is currently conducting brood surveys on 64 study plots across northwest North Dakota. Each plot is four square miles and encompasses several wetland basins. So far, researchers have visited more than 2,800 wetlands on 46 study plots. By the end of this week, they will have visited nearly 4,000 wetlands and finished all 64 plots.

High school biology students study conservation at DU’s Coteau Ranch

About 100 Bismarck, N.D. Century High School summer biology students traveled to Ducks Unlimited’s Coteau Ranch near Wing this week to learn more about how wildlife and people benefit from native prairie and wetlands. The property is in the heart of the Missouri Coteau, a part of the Prairie Pothole Region that provides some of the best nesting habitat in the world.

Ducks Unlimited hires summer research technicians to conduct brood survey in the Bakken

Ducks Unlimited (DU) has hired summer research technicians (pictured above) to conduct a brood survey in the Bakken area of the Prairie Pothole Region. Their findings will complement the breeding-pairs survey conducted earlier this summer and help determine the effects of oil development on waterfowl production.

DU & UND Duck Nest Cam: Deer Video-Bombs Nest Cam

Clips are from University of North Dakota field cameras placed on duck nests at a Ducks Unlimited property in central North Dakota. DU is collaborating with UND on the nest cams project to study the habits of blue-winged teal.

DU & UND Duck Nest Cam: Chick Emerges From Nest

Clips are from University of North Dakota field cameras placed on duck nests at a Ducks Unlimited property in central North Dakota. DU is collaborating with UND on the nest cams project to study the habits of blue-winged teal.

DU & UND Duck Nest Cam: Bluewing Leaving Nest

Clips are from University of North Dakota field cameras placed on duck nests at a Ducks Unlimited property in central North Dakota. DU is collaborating with UND on the nest cams project to study the habits of blue-winged teal.

DU & UND Duck Nest Cam: Hen Returns to Nest

Clips are from University of North Dakota field cameras placed on duck nests at a Ducks Unlimited property in central North Dakota. DU is collaborating with UND on the nest cams project to study the habits of blue-winged teal.

DU & UND Duck Nest Cam: Raptor Attacks Duck on Nest

Clips are from University of North Dakota field cameras placed on duck nests at a Ducks Unlimited property in central North Dakota. DU is collaborating with UND on the nest cams project to study the habits of blue-winged teal.

Nesting Camera Partnership with University of North Dakota

This year, even more video cameras will be bringing people an inside look at duck nests on Ducks Unlimited’s Coteau Ranch, near Bismarck, N.D. In its second year, the collaboration between DU and the University of North Dakota (UND) will include two new UND interns.

Ducks Unlimited partners with UND for nest cam project

Ducks Unlimited has partnered with University of North Dakota to provide biology students experience and school credit through a summer research project at the Coteau Ranch, a 3,000-acre property owned and restored by Ducks Unlimited. The interns monitor blue-winged teal nests via surveillance cameras to study nesting behavior.

PPR Research Crew Update

The team has begun its second round of breeding duck pair surveys. During this round, the researchers are observing breeding pairs of later-nesting species. By the end of this week, they will have surveyed nearly 1,000 wetland basins on about 22 study plots.

Perspective from the Field: Waterfowl Research in the Duck Factory

Thick early morning fog covers the gravel road as we head towards our study plot for the day in Northwest North Dakota. This morning resembles the many mornings I have shared with friends prior to a day of duck hunting, but it is not exactly the same. I am here primarily to bolster my resume as a crew leader on a waterfowl research project for Ducks Unlimited, Inc. But it is so much more than that. I am an important part of a dedicated team of wetland conservationists.

DU Research Team in the Bakken Oil Fields Covering Ground

The DU research team looking at waterfowl productivity in the oil patch portion of the Prairie Pothole Region is now about halfway done with the first round of its pair survey. They have surveyed about 1,500 wetland basins on 30 four-square mile study plots.

Ducks Unlimited Bakken Prairie Research Begins

Ducks Unlimited techs have begun surveying duck pairs on wetlands in the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR) area of the Bakken oil field in northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana. The technicians aim to survey breeding pairs on 4,000 wetland basins on 62 study plots this spring.

DU Studies Oil Field Development Impacts on Waterfowl

Members of Ducks Unlimited's science staff in the Great Plains Region are working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat and Population Evaluation Team (HAPET) to implement the first year of a three- to four-year study investigating the impacts of development on waterfowl productivity in the Prairie Pothole Region's Bakken Formation. This large geologic formation underlying parts of North Dakota, Montana, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba has experienced intensive oil exploration and extraction since 2000.

Gray Family Honored for Conservation Efforts in Montana

Ducks Unlimited recently recognized the Gray family for their efforts to protect some of the most important wetlands on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in northern Montana. Emery Gray, a tribal member, passed away just before the project was finished. This spring, a sign was placed on the property overlooking the restored wetland complex to pay tribute to Gray's tireless efforts.

Breeding Grounds Survey: Overall Conditions Improved from Last Year

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.

America's 2014 Farm Bill

After two and a half years of delays and gridlock, Congress passed a new Farm Bill in February 2014. This bipartisan legislation provides more than $28 billion in funding for a variety of conservation programs on private lands. Following is an overview of important conservation provisions included in the new Farm Bill, and how they are likely to impact waterfowl and their habitats across the United States over the next five years.

DU and Partners Help Farmers Conserve Montana's Prairies

The Hi-Line, which encompasses Montana's portion of the Prairie Pothole Region (PPR), has been experiencing native grassland loss at rates not seen since the Dust Bowl. To help reverse this trend, DU conservation specialist Brett Dorak recently began working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency (FSA) staff to promote federal conservation programs.

NAWCA turns 25

Now a quarter century old, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act is more important than ever to waterfowl and hunters. By Scott C. Yaich, Ph.D.

Migration Alert: Strong Local Duck Production Drives Success in Montana

Reports of successful waterfowl hunts have been trickling in to Bob Sanders, Ducks Unlimited manager of conservation programs for Montana, from all over the state since the season started on September 28, but things have turned sour in recent days, and it has nothing to do with the ducks.

Ducks Unlimited Milk River Banquet set for Oct. 12 in Malta

MALTA, Mont. September 16, 2013 - Join Ducks Unlimited for a fun evening and help support habitat work in the Montana nesting grounds. The Milk River DU Chapter Banquet offers a night of good food, games and fellowship on Saturday, Oct. 12 in Malta. The event will be held at the Malta City Hall with cocktails beginning at 5:30 p.m. and a prime rib and shrimp dinner at 6:30 p.m.

Preserving Our Prairies

If you live in or have visited the Prairie Pothole Region recently, you have no doubt witnessed how quickly the landscape is changing. And if you haven't visited the Duck Factory lately, well, there is reason for concern.

Preserve Our Prairies Initiative

Conserving North America's highest-priority waterfowl nesting habitat—and the glory of bountiful fall flights—in the face of mounting threats.

Understanding Waterfowl: Seasonal Wetlands and Breeding Ducks

These small, shallow-flooded basins are vital to waterfowl production on the prairies

Habitat Update: Northern Plains Receives More Snow

A late spring storm in North Dakota dropped one to two feet of snow across the state, creating chaos for citizens of the Northern Plains. For most waterfowl, however, the snow is just a temporary setback.

South Dakota writer honored at 2013 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards Ceremony

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – April 1, 2013 – Ducks Unlimited announced today the winners of the 2013 Wetland Conservation Achievement Awards during the 78th North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference held in Arlington, Va., at the Crystal Gateway Hyatt. This year's recipient in the Communications category is freelance writer John Pollmann.

Conservation Q&A

With Gary Taylor, DU's Director of Governmental Affairs; on a variety of topics, including the RESTORE Act, NAWCA and DU's top legislative priorities.

CN Supports Boreal Forest Conservation Plan

Wetlands America Trust board member David McLean was well aware of the size and beauty of North America's boreal forest. After all, the forest covers 1.4 billion acres in his native country of Canada. But he didn't realize the full importance of this vast landscape to waterfowl and other bird populations until he heard about DU and The Pew Charitable Trusts' partnership to conserve 1 billion acres of this region by 2022.

Help DU conserve crucial waterfowl breeding grounds today

With a grant from SportDOG, Ducks Unlimited, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will conserve 5,463 acres of wetland and wetland-associated grassland habitat using purchased perpetual easements along with fee-title (outright) purchase of important landscapes. Vote today!

A Freelancer's Guide to the PPR

With its mix of grasslands and wetlands, the Prairie Pothole Region of the Dakotas, Minnesota, Montana and Canada is the destination for millions of nesting waterfowl each spring.

Understanding Waterfowl: Drought and Deluge

We can't control the weather, but conserving wetlands and grasslands on the prairies will help ensure the long-term health of duck populations

Conservation: Gains and Losses

While progress has been made in conserving the nation's wetlands, these vital habitats continue to decline at an alarming rate

Lake Ontario Wetland Restoration Completed

Ducks Unlimited recently completed construction work on a wetland-enhancement project on Lakeview Wildlife Management Area (WMA) along eastern Lake Ontario.

Winter Wheat Acreage Up 75 Percent in North Dakota

Waterfowl will find more winter wheat on the landscape this spring when they return to North Dakota's prairie pothole country.

Potholes in Peril

New threats to prairie wetlands could mean big trouble for duck populations

Transportation Bill Land and Water Conservation Funding Provisions Important to Sportsmen

Pierre, SD — May 24, 2012 — Leaders representing sportsmen's interests, including Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, a South Dakota farmer/rancher, and the former Secretary of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks, joined today to call on Congress to maintain funding for land and water conservation programs as they debate a final transportation authorization bill.

Media Advisory: Sportsmen's groups urge keeping land and water conservation funding in transportation bill

The teleconference will give reporters a chance to hear about the opportunity to secure additional funding for habitat conservation and outdoor recreation access, and will provide an example of the areas that would benefit from funding.

2012 Spring Habitat Conditions in Canada

The following is a compilation of environmental conditions relative to breeding waterfowl submitted by DUC field staff. These observations are not based on systematic surveys or intended to describe hunting conditions.

High-Priority Habitats

Following are DU's five highest-priority landscapes, their importance to waterfowl and our efforts to conserve them for present and future generations.

Conservation: Ducks in a Crowded World

Sustaining healthy waterfowl numbers will be a great challenge as the earth's human population grows

DU opposes funding diversion

On Thursday, Feb. 9, Ducks Unlimited signed on to a national letter produced by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Coalition opposing a shift in funds from the LWCF to highways and other national infrastructure.

Tennessee commissioners see benefits of international conservation efforts during tour

Since 1992, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) has been contributing to waterfowl conservation on the Canadian prairies. Ducks Unlimited is committed to conserving North American waterfowl habitat, regardless of the flyway or country, and TWRA's partnership with DU emphasizes how important Canadian waterfowl production is to the Tennessee hunter.

Dakota Grassland Conservation Area now a national conservation priority

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has released his final 50-State America's Great Outdoors Report, which highlights the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area as one of the country's 100 most promising outdoor projects.

A Banquet for Ducks

Hunters have long recognized the importance of rice to wintering and migrating waterfowl. Why is rice agriculture so important to dabbling duck populations?

Department of Interior Announces Four New Conservation Areas

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited both Capitol Hill and the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida last week to celebrate the establishment of four new conservation areas and wildlife refuges.

DU Chairman Joins U.S. Secretary of the Interior and USFWS Director to Commemorate New National Wildlife Refuges

DU Chairman of the Board John Pope joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar and USFWS Director Dan Ashe last week to install four new planks on the boardwalk at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Early Fall Habitat Conditions in Canada

Due to favorable habitat conditions throughout Canada, fall flight expectations remain high. Overall migration still depends heavily on timely weather patterns.

Whiting Petroleum fuels conservation work in North Dakota

Whiting Petroleum Corporation recently contributed $100,000 to Ducks Unlimited for specific conservation action on the western edge of North Dakota's Prairie Pothole Region.

Sportsmen must speak up to make the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area a reality

DU strongly supports the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to formally establish the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area. However, if this jewel for America's wildlife is to be protected, sportsmen will need to tell Congress of its significance.

Sportsmen must speak up to make the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area a reality

DU is pleased with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's recent decision to formally establish the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area. However, if this jewel for America's wildlife is to be protected, sportsmen will need to tell Congress of its significance.

DU Acquires Prime Breeding Ground Habitat in Montana

As part of ongoing efforts to conserve intact prairie pothole habitat, Ducks Unlimited and its foundation, Wetlands America Trust, recently acquired a 2,158-acre complex of grassland and wetland habitat in north-central Montana's "Hi-Line."

DU, Partners Secure $1 million Grant for Iowa's Portion of Prairie Pothole Region

Ducks Unlimited received a $1 million North American Wetlands Conservation Act grant earlier this year for projects in Iowa. NAWCA is a federal matching grants program that provides funding for wetland and migratory bird habitat conservation work across North America.

As Budget Talks Continue, the Future Remains Uncertain for Waterfowl

Two upcoming meetings will be key to the impact of the future of NAWCA

Policy News 3-18

Ducks Unlimited Receives Highest Honor from USDA-NRCS; DU Leaders Visit Capitol Hill, Discuss Waterfowl Initiatives with Nation's Top Policymakers; DU explains importance of Clean Water Act draft guidance during media briefing

Salazar pushes protecting the Duck Factory during State of the Birds

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says easements on private land are an efficient way to provide conservation in critical habitat, while helping ranchers stay in business.

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