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North Dakota Outdoors - Lots of Ducks

There has been a population explosion in North Dakota this year. No its not who you think - it is ducks. Ducks and other waterfowl are back in big numbers.

There are two reasons for this surge. And one believe it or not has to do with all this. Mother nature at work. North Dakota had 92 inches of snow last year. That created some problems for humans but it was a God send for ducks. The melting snows replenished wetlands and made wonderful habitat for waterfowl.

The other reason is very man-made and man caused. It is called CRP - the conservation reserve program. CRP is a federal program to save erodible land. Farmers are paid to set aside farm land and not to pasture or crop it. It saves vulnerable soil and also makes ideal wildlife habitat - all that new cover provides food, shelter, and nesting areas. And not just for geese and ducks. Upland birds like grouse and pheasants, big game animals like deer and antelope benefit as well.

Take CRP and nature's bounty together and the results have been dramatic. Duck numbers for 1994 are up 30%. This was the best year for geese and ducks since 1979. Mallards, canvasbacks, blue wing teal, wood ducks, and other species all increased their numbers. There were 70 million ducks in the continental US this fall. This is still a long way from the goal of 100 million, but it is moving in the right direction.

So next time you are groaning under a snow shovel just remember all this powdered moisture plus the CRP is going to mean a lot more wildlife next spring. More baby ducks, more visual splendor in the skies, more hunting in the fall.

This is Lex Hames for North Dakota Game and Fish Department out in the great North Dakota outdoors.
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Last modified June 29, 1995