ND midwinter survey shows record waterfowlA mild, dry fall and an unseasonably warm winter have resulted in a record number of ducks and geese wintering in North Dakota.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A mild, dry fall and an unseasonably warm winter have resulted in a record number of ducks and geese wintering in North Dakota.
The state Game and Fish Department estimated 279,000 birds during its annual midwinter waterfowl survey conducted in January. The previous record was 237,000 birds in 2008, said Mike Szymanski, a migratory game bird biologist with the agency. This year's count includes a record 190,000 geese and a record 88,000 mallard ducks.
“This year's survey was highly abnormal, and numbers of waterfowl within the state were probably underestimated because of the open water and lack of snow statewide,” Szymanski said. "The lack of snow cover was especially important in keeping these birds around.
“This year's survey results are a dramatic turnaround from the last three severe winters, when less than 36,000 total waterfowl were observed statewide each year,” he said.
The latest crop, livestock and weather report from the Agriculture Department shows that there was less than 2 inches of snow on the ground on average in North Dakota at the end of January, compared with more than 2 feet last year at the same time. Average temperatures around the state were as much as 15 degrees above normal, and numerous high-temperature records fell during the month.
“It's just been a phenomenally nice winter,” Szymanski said.