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Ecology and Management of Islands, Peninsulas and Structures for Nesting Waterfowl

Ducks Unlimited Inc.'s Secure Nesting Habitat Program

Robert D. Hoffman
Duck's Unlimited, Inc.
Bismarck, ND 58501

As part of Ducks Unlimited, Inc.'s Habitat USA program, project proposals for the creation of secure nesting habitat are accepted for review by the Great Plains Regional Office from public wildlife management agencies in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Projects are evaluated on their potential to increase waterfowl production. Prior to project construction, the public wildlife management agency secures all necessary permits and submits, for joint approval, a site management plan. Upon completion of the project, the agency, under long-term agreement, provides for routine maintenance and all management responsibilities including controlling predators, maintaining quality upland nesting habitat and monitoring waterfowl use and nest success.

The size and number of islands constructed is determined based on habitat characteristics and historical waterfowl production records. Islands are constructed in wetlands at a minimum distance of 100 yards from the nearest shoreline and 65 yards apart, and in locations with the greatest erosion protection. Islands created by separating a peninsula from the mainland involves either excavating a 3-foot deep, 100-yard wide canal, or constructing an electric predator-proof fence. Excavated peninsulas provide natural erosion protection and little disturbance to existing upland vegetation. Electric fences, although less expensive, have a higher maintenance requirement. A limited number of electric predator-proof exclosures have been constructed on uplands. Results from current studies by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will determine DU's interest in future construction of exclosures. Artificial nesting structures have been constructed to enhance mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) and Dusky Canada Geese (Branta c. occidentalis) production in Minnesota and Alaska, respectively.

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