Long hours of hard work from technicians and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and Ducks Unlimited scientists led to a successful summer of data collection for the 2016 field season, examining waterfowl productivity in the Bakken play. The data collected this year represents another crucial step towards researchers understanding how waterfowl populations may respond to the disturbance associated with oil and gas development.
Across the summer, technicians made more than 15,000 wetland visits in northwest North Dakota and northeast Montana. Late summer rainfall kept some water on the ground for ducks but also added logistical challenges to field days. Technicians dealt with reduced visibility during surveys, delays of surveys and wet data sheets. For both pair and brood surveys, blue-winged teal were the most common duck species counted.
While technicians and research scientists conducted much of the day-to-day field work, the unsung heroes of the summer were truly Montana's and North Dakota’s private landowners who have provided the opportunity to conduct research on their property. DU will complete a final year of data collection in 2017, thanks to partners that include USFWS Habitat and Population Evaluation Team, N.D. Game and Fish, Central Flyway Council, Prairie Pothole Joint Venture, Enbridge's Ecofootprint Grant Program and the Minnesota Association of Resource Conservation and Department Council.