The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual fall wetland survey indicates fair, but declining wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout the state.
Andy Dinges, migratory game bird biologist, said the number of duck hunting wetlands are down statewide about 40 percent from last year, and are the lowest since 2008. He said the number of wetlands in every region lying north and east of the Missouri River is down since last fall, with the southeast suffering the most from the drought. Dinges said hunters should find more wetlands available for hunting in the northern reaches of the state.
“Wetland conditions are declining, however, we are still holding on to most of our semi-permanent wetlands,” Dinges added. “These remaining wetlands are in fair to good shape, providing a hopeful outlook for the season. However, hunters should expect some wider mud margins around wetlands, possibly making hunting more difficult.”
Dinges added that moisture conditions were good early in the year because of substantial snowfall that covered much of the state last winter, but the severe drought that hampered the state during early and mid-summer caused conditions to rapidly deteriorate.
“Some much-needed August precipitation helped green up many areas of the state, but not enough to reverse declining wetland conditions,” he said.
The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is largely determined by weather conditions and migration patterns. Dinges said fair reproduction for ducks in traditional breeding areas this year still makes for good fall hunting potential in North Dakota.
“Hunters should always scout because of ever changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl,” he added. “Hunters should also be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots, and while encountering areas of tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard.”
The fall wetland survey is conducted in mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect. Duck hunting wetlands are classified as seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands.