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Island Predator Removal Efforts at J. Clark Salyer National
Wildlife Refuge, 1985-89

WILLIAM J. BERG

J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge Complex, Upham, ND 58789


In the 1950s, several waterfowl nesting islands were built in freshwater marshes of the J. Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge. Various techniques have been used to remove predators with varied degrees of success. In the 1950s and 1960s, strychnine eggs were a very effective tool employed to remove egg-eating animals. Aerial gunning was also utilized to remove predators immediately following ice-out. In the 1970s, very little predator work was done on refuge nesting islands. In 1985, a concerted effort was made to remove predators following ice-out and throughout the nesting season. Trapping efforts have been very successful at removing raccoon, striped skunk, and female mink. Raccoon and skunk are easily removed using bucket sets, den sets, and leghold trap sets. Female mink tending young have been removed using leghold trap and den sets. Less success has occurred trying to remove roaming male mink. Even though male mink predation accounts for lower success rates in many years, it is not a continuous problem on all islands, nor is it a season-long problem. Male mink predation is sporadic, affecting a portion of an island's nests, rather than all the nests on the entire island. Male mink forays make it difficult to establish their patterns and thereby making it more difficult to successfully trap them. Occasional problems occur with coyotes, especially during low water years, when islands are more accessible to predators.

Overall, nesting success has improved due to predator reduction efforts. Successful predator control is dependent on predator populations and trapper skills. An ability to interpret predator signs and then to key in on problem animals and islands is very important to a successful control program and improved waterfowl production.


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