Waterfowl and Predators

Changes to wildlife habitat on the prairies have lead to a proliferation of small predators like foxes, skunks, and raccoons in key waterfowl production areas. Where upland nesting cover is sparse and fragmented, studies have shown that small predators often destory 85 to 95 percent of waterfowl nests and kill staggering numbers of hens.

Red foxes kill an estimated 900,000 adult ducks, primarily breeding hens, on the prairies every year.

Waterfowl Related Facts

• Shoverlers feed on tiny, aquatic invertebrates, which they strain from the water with their odd-shaped bills. They sometimes feed by spinning their bodies in tight circles, which appears to create a whirlpool effect in the water, concentrating their tiny prey.

• Hens communicate with their ducklings even before they hatch, creating an early bond with their offspring, which is essential to survival.

• Although 10-gauge loads enhance shooting performance by providing increased pattern density, they don't increase the overall effective range of pellets to the same extent.

• Ducks' nesting success in the Dakotas has tripled in many areas where large tracts of former farm croplands have been retired to Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) cover.

• The Conservation Reserve Program is one of the most successful wildlife conservation efforts ever. Following the latest CRP sign-up period, farmers have secured roughly 21.8 million acres of wildlife habitat, including 4.6 million acres in the Prairie Pothole Region.

Source: Ducks Unlimited


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