Ducks Unlimited and partners began research last August investigating habitat use, movements and survival of female mottled ducks in coastal South Carolina. Hen mottled ducks will be captured and radio-marked over a three-year period and then tracked by researchers. The study will be conducted in South Carolina's Lowcountry, primarily within the 350,000-acre ACE Basin near Green Pond, and includes Charleston, Colleton, and Beaufort counties.

Mottled ducks were introduced in South Carolina from 1976 to 1981 to provide additional hunting opportunities for waterfowlers. Approximately 1,200 mottled ducks from Texas and Louisiana were released at four sites along the coast, and the population has now expanded to include other areas of the state. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources estimates that the state currently has a mottled duck population of about 20,000 birds. But little is known about the ecology and habitat requirements of mottled ducks in South Carolina, particularly the birds' nesting and brood-rearing needs.

This research will provide valuable information about mottled duck ecology that will be used to develop management strategies for the birds. Graduate students from Mississippi State University will conduct the research and summarize the results. DU has committed $122,500 over the next three years toward this research. DU's partners in this project include the Nemours Plantation Wildlife Foundation, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, and Mississippi State University.