The distribution and abundance of predators in the prairie pothole region and in other key breeding areas has shifted over time, putting breeding ducks at risk. For upland nesters, such as mallards, teal, gadwall, and pintails, predation by raccoons, skunks and other duck egg eaters often runs rampant on the prairies. This reality, coupled with declining duck nesting habitat, is disastrous for nest success—the primary factor that determines whether duck populations rise or fall.
Alarmed by plummeting duck numbers and restrictive seasons in the early 1990s, Delta Waterfowl was determined to find a management strategy to restore the region’s tremendous duck-producing potential.
Predator management has proven to be the most effective and efficient approach to increasing duck production. Delta’s research indicates that this tool is best applied across habitats with sparse nesting cover and intensive agriculture. Given agriculture’s permanent place on the prairie landscape and the ongoing losses of nesting cover, ensuring robust duck populations hinges on responsible predator management.
Predation is the No. 1 reason that duck nests fail
- Duck nests in untrapped upland habitat in highly altered, agricultural landscapes often have hatch rates of only 5 – 10%, far below the 15 – 20% needed just to maintain the population.
- In particularly poor breeding areas, nest and hen predation is so high that fewer hens leave in the fall than arrived in the spring.
- Delta Waterfowl’s Predator Management program dramatically reduces predator numbers by trapping in areas of high-breeding duck densities to put thousands more ducks into the fall flight.
- Delta is growing its Predator Management program to include additional sites in North Dakota and prairie Canada.