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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Waterfowl Production on the Woodworth Station
in South-central North Dakota, 1965-1981

Waterfowl and Predators

Twelve species of ducks commonly nested on the WSA: mallards (Anas platyrhynchos), gadwalls (A. strepera), American wigeon (A. americana), green-winged teal (A. crecca), blue-winged teal (A. discors), northern shovelers (A. clypeata), northern pintails (A. acuta), redheads (Aythya americana), canvasbacks (A. valisineria), lesser scaup (A. affinis), ring-necked ducks (A. collaris), and ruddy ducks (Oxyura jamaicensis). Canada geese (Branta canadensis) were released on the area in 1966 and wood ducks (Aix sponsa) in 1969 (Doty 1974), some of each species still nest there. Only rarely did an American black duck (Anas rubripes) or cinnamon teal (A. cyanoptera) remain during the nesting season (Klett and Lokemoen 1968). These and other bird species that occur on the WSA during breeding season are listed in Appendix B.

Mammals common to the study area are listed in Appendix C. Coyotes (Canis latrans) had been absent from the area since the mid-1950's until 1973. Two were seen on the study area on 13 February 1978 and one male was trapped on the study area in 1979. Coyotes returned to the Woodworth vicinity primarily because use of aerial gunning and 1080 poison control measures was reduced. Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), raccoons (Procyon lotor), striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis), badgers (Taxidea taxus), and mink (Mustela vison) were common throughout the study. Long-tailed (Mustela frenata) and least weasels (M. nivalis) were seen infrequently on the area and their abundance changed only slightly with changes in small rodent populations (Lokemoen and Higgins 1972). Weasels were locally abundant in the 1940's and 1950's. Their presently reduced status is believed due to red fox predation and land-use changes.

Three species of ground squirrels were present at all times. Before 1969, Richardson's ground squirrels (Spermophilus richardsonii) were the most abundant. Since 1969, thirteen-lined ground squirrels (S. tridecemlineatus) have been the most abundant, probably due to the establishment of taller, denser cover on former croplands. Thirteen-lined and Franklin's ground squirrels (S. franklinii) associated with taller and denser vegetation sites whereas Richardson's ground squirrels more often occurred with short and sparse vegetation and grassland pastures, especially overgrazed areas.

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