ND: Midwinter Waterfowl Survey Reveals Record Numbers

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter
waterfowl survey in early January showed 279,000 birds, a record
high for the number of ducks and geese wintering in the
state.

Mike Szymanski, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated
90,000 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and
another 70,500 were scattered on Lake Sakakawea, which was
completely open east of the Van Hook Arm. After summarizing the
numbers, a record 190,000 geese were tallied statewide.

“This year’s survey was highly abnormal, and numbers of waterfowl
within the state were probably underestimated because of the open
water and lack of snow statewide,” Szymanski said. “The lack of
snow cover was especially important in keeping these birds
around.”

A mild, dry fall with record-setting warm temperatures kept the
birds here longer than usual, Szymanski said, with snow geese
remaining in the southern half of the state until early
December.

In addition to the record number of geese, mallards reached an
all-time high as 88,000 were counted statewide, with 31,000 on
Devils Lake.

Survey conditions were generally good, Szymanski said, with
record-setting high temperatures in January bringing daytime highs
of 15-30 degrees above normal.

“This year’s survey results are a dramatic turnaround from the last
three severe winters when less than 36,000 total waterfowl were
observed statewide each year,” Szymanski said.

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