BISMARCK, NORTH DAKOTA — Delta Waterfowl will install 200 more mallard-producing Hen House nest structures supported by a $26,300 grant from the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund.
The award will pay for the construction of the Hen Houses, poles and the installation costs for 200 new structures to be placed in Stutsman County near Woodworth, North Dakota. Delta Waterfowl’s Hen House Program has an established presence in the area, including 121 nest structures installed under a previous OHF grant. Hen Houses Delta has deployed there have shown high use rates.
“The board looked at the success rates of the Hen House structures, and they were very good,” said Jim Melchior, chairman of the Outdoor Heritage Fund Advisory Board. “We’re certainly striving for success with these grants.”
North Dakota’s OHF was established in 2013 to award grants to support conservation practices such as enhancing wildlife populations, restoring habitat and providing access for sportsmen and women. The money comes from oil and gas production tax revenues.
The Woodworth area is an excellent project location for Hen Houses because it attracts a significant population of breeding mallards and has a high density of wetlands, according to Matt Chouinard, waterfowl programs manager.
Delta focuses Hen House sites in wetland areas with limited nesting cover where nest predators such as red foxes, raccoons and skunks can easily find duck nests in the sparse patches of grass.
“Hen Houses enhance existing habitat by providing a safe place for mallards to nest,” Chouinard said. “Nest success — the percentage of nest attempts that successfully hatch — typically ranges between 60 and 90 percent in Hen Houses. That’s well above typical nest success for mallards in North Dakota, which is less than 20 percent. Hen Houses have been found to be productive and cost-effective in nearly every location in North America where significant numbers of mallards nest.”
Delta will work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, North Dakota Game and Fish and private landowners to locate and gain access to specific Hen House locations.
“Because Hen Houses are installed in existing wetlands, this project offers an excellent opportunity to work with private landowners to boost duck production without impacting land-use practices,” Chouinard said. “Hen House projects create good working relationships with landowners and, in some cases, open the door to other conservation programs.”
Matching funds from Delta members and supporters will pay for 10 years of annual maintenance of the 200 nests funded by the OHF grant. Once they are installed next winter, Delta will have more than 500 Hen Houses in the North Dakota.
Delta maintains more than 7,000 Hen Houses in key duck breeding areas of North America. The organization plans to install more than 7,000 new structures in the prairie pothole region over the next four years, with a long-term goal of adding 250,000 mallards to the fall flight annually.
For more information on Delta Waterfowl’s Hen House program, contact Matt Chouinard at (888) 987-3695 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group dedicated to ducks and duck hunters in North America.