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.
To aid in waterfowl data collection during the 2014 field season, seven technicians were hired using funding assistance from the Prairie Pothole Region Joint Venture, HAPET, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Inventory and Monitoring Program. The research team began collecting data in July with a survey involving 12 days of duck brood counts on 30 plots spread across nine counties in the U.S. portion of the Bakken. The survey was repeated in the first weeks of August to gather information on later-nesting waterfowl species. Next year the team will implement surveys of breeding-pair abundance in the spring, in addition to the late-summer brood surveys.