Recent studies have identified a ‘habitat threshold’, a relationship between the amount of grassland nesting cover and nest success. It has been determined that when 30-40% of the land is in permanent cover (ie. grasslands) nest success is 15-20%. Knowing that this habitat threshold exists allows managers to make decisions for waterfowl management throughout the prairie pothole region.
In many areas of intensively farmed landscapes the habitat threshold may not be attainable due to financial and political realities. Areas with high wetland densities will commonly attract 60-80 pairs of ducks per square mile, however most of these breeding pairs will not produce a single brood. Delta’s student research program has discovered that predator management can return areas back to productive landscapes for ducks once again, increasing nest success by two fold, averaging an increase from 24 to 48% nest success. Delta and its partners are using predator management in a targeted manner to areas that have high breeding densities - but are below the habitat threshold and subsequently experience low nest success.
Delta and its partners will apply predator management on blocks of 23,040 acres of attractive but unproductive habitat and return them to productive systems once more. 2007 saw a total of 9 trappers working in North Dakota, 2 in Saskatchewan and another 2 in South Dakota. These efforts are evaluated on several fronts as part of our student research program and we are studying the effects on shorebirds, scaup and other diving ducks, We are also considering the effect beyond the border of the block, duck nesting densities on areas trapped multiple years, nest and duckling survival, etc. Delta needs your support of this endeavor. Please make a contribution today to the Delta Duck Production program, knowing that you will be contributing directly to increased duck production.