Dakota Country Magazine October 2016 Edition - Page 91

Late summer duck numbers improved Tallied from ND Game and Fish reports T The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual spring breeding duck survey conducted last May showed an index of 3.4 million birds, down 5 percent from last year. The spring migration was well ahead of normal as open fields and warm temperatures allowed early migrants to pass quickly through the state. At that time, survey results indicated all species, except ruddy ducks (up 19 percent) and gadwall (up 4 percent), decreased from their 2015 estimates, while shovelers remained unchanged. Mallards were down 9 percent, pintails down 17 percent and canvasbacks down 18 percent. However all species, with www.dakotacountrymagazine.com the exception of pintails and canvasbacks, were above the long-term average (1948-2015). In early spring, the number of temporary and seasonal wetlands was substantially lower than last year, with the spring water index down 50 percent. However, conditions coming out of May into June were much wetter. Frequent rains through the summer filled many wetlands that are beneficial for breeding ducks. As a result, things have improved. For this fall, Game and Fish Department biologists expect a fall duck flight from North Dakota similar to last year, based on observations from the annual mid-July waterfowl production survey. Dakota Country, October 2016, Page 91