Prairies Under Siege

A four-part series about the science, policy & planning behind DU's conservation efforts in the Prairie Pothole Region

Photo © Michael Furtman

North America's prairies could reasonably be considered the most important habitats on the continent for waterfowl. This is where the life cycle begins - where millions of ducks and geese are born each year. Without this unique landscape, no amount of migration and wintering habitat would help, because very few waterfowl would survive. Yet today this precious ecosystem is under siege like no other time since the mid-1970s, when farmers were urged to plow "fencerow to fencerow."

In this special four-part series some of DU's top biologists weigh in on the importance of the prairies, the threats facing this ecosystem, and the work DU is doing to conserve North America's most productive waterfowl habitats.

Part One: Ducks, Habitat Conservation, and Predators
by Chuck Petrie

An in-depth look at why DU has concluded that wide-scale predator control to increase duck populations is an ineffective approach that would be harmful to long-term waterfowl conservation and the hunters who enjoy the sport of waterfowling.


Part Two: New Threats to Ducks and Waterfowling
by Bruce Batt

North America's famed Prairie Pothole Region (the "Duck Factory") is facing the greatest potential loss of habitat in decades. In this special report, DU's Chief Biologist, Bruce Batt, looks at the threat and solutions facing North America's prairies and waterfowl.


Part Three: Science and Conservation
by Mike Anderson & Scott Stephens, Ph.D.

Behind every conservation decision DU makes is a solid base of sound science. In the words of, Mike Anderson, director of the Institute for Wetland and Waterfowl Research for Ducks Unlimited Canada, and Scott Stephens, director of DU's Great Plains Regional Office, Ducks Unlimited uses "adaptive management to maximize the long-term impact of every conservation investment." In other words, DU is constantly learning and adapting…always testing our methods and improving our approaches to conservation. In this article, Anderson and Stephens outline the science DU uses in the battle to conserve North America's grasslands.


Part Four: The Future of the Prairies
by Jim Ringelman

With an honest look towards the future, DU's director of conservation for the Great Plains Region, Jim Ringelman, ties it all together. In this special report, Ringelman explains the threats facing the prairies today and the solutions we can bring about for tomorrow. From the Clean Water Act to biotechnology, this report sums up the series by pinpointing the problems on the prairies and suggesting practical, long-term solutions.