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Reducing Predation on Duck Nests Using Fences and Baskets

KIMBAL H. ESKOWICH AND DAVID C. DUNCAN

Saskatchewan Parks and Renewable Resources, Prairie Pothole Project,
P.0. Box 746, Redvers, SK SOC 2HO, Canada


In 1987, the Prairie Pothole Project established four 40-acre introduced Dense Nesting Cover (DNC) plots using a mixture of tall wheatgrass (Agropyron elongatum var. orbit), intermediate wheatgrass (A. intermedium var. Clarke), alfalfa (Medicago sativa var. rangelander), and sweet clover (Melilotus officionalis). These were subsequently enclosed with electric predator fences in an attempt to increase waterfowl nesting success by reducing mammalian predation. In addition, two 40-acre native idle plots were also fenced to evaluate waterfowl usage and success. Although drought conditions and reduced pond numbers have persisted since 1987, waterfowl usage of the plots has continued to increase. In 1988, nine waterfowl nests achieved 100% Mayfield success, in 1989 31 duck nests achieved 90% Mayfield success, and in 1990 38 waterfowl nests were located within the plots, although success has not yet been determined. Mallards represent the highest overall use with 83% of total ducks while blue-winged teal, gadwall, American wigeon, northern shoveler, and green- winged teal represent the remainder. Utilization of the plots by mourning doves and sharp-tailed grouse has also continued to increase.

In addition to predator fences, approximately 200 artificial nesting structures have also been implemented within the study area. These consist of horizonal metal cones, wire baskets, and plastic baskets. Wire baskets have consistently received the highest use with 23% (1987), 18% (1988), and 22% (1989) of usable structures being utilized. Usage of metal cones has remained at approximately 5% of useable structures for all years while no plastic baskets have been utilized to date. Mallards account for all structure used.

Data for 1990 will be presented as well as preliminary results of nest structure usage at the Quill Lakes North American Waterfowl Management Plan project.


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