COLD WEATHER ARRIVES; MOST WATERFOWL DEPART, SAYS USFWS
Cold temperatures have chased most ducks and geese out of North Dakota, and
hunters may have to do a lot of scouting for the few good hunting
opportunities that remain. The final weekly report of the season by the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service emphasizes that those opportunities will be
very limited, and may not last long.
Southeastern North Dakota still has some areas with ducks and snow geese,
but the Canada geese are almost gone. Biologist Kristine Askerooth of
Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge says ice is building up on even the
larger wetlands. She suggests hunters try the area northwest of Rutland,
Kraft Slough near Oakes, and the Hankinson area.
The wetlands surrounding Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge near Pingree
were still holding about 10,000 ducks and 4,000 Canada geese at mid-week.
Biologist Paulette Scherr says most wetlands in eastern Foster and
northeastern Stutsman counties have frozen over, but she counted 1,000
Canada geese and about 20,000 ducks on one large wetland.
Most waterfowl in western Stutsman and Wells counties departed last
weekend. Dave Bolin of the Chase Lake Prairie Project says some snow geese
may still be found in Wells County, where larger wetlands are still open.
All but the largest wetlands in the Valley City area have frozen over.
Kory Richardson of the Valley City Wetland Management District says most
snow geese departed after a brief stay, but small pockets of mallards may
be found near big wetlands.
Most waterfowl have moved out of southeast-central North Dakota. Bob
Vanden Berge of the Kulm Wetland Management District says most wetlands are
ice-covered. He believes there could be some groups of ducks near open
water, but adds that won't last long.
The cold weather has driven nearly all the waterfowl out of Kidder,
Burleigh and Emmons counties. Biologist Gregg Knutsen of Long Lake
National Wildlife Refuge says scattered groups of Canada geese, snow geese
and ducks remain on only the largest and deepest wetlands.
Waterfowl are steadily departing from Audubon National Wildlife Refuge near
Coleharbor. Project leader Mike McEnroe says almost all the ducks, along
with most of the snow geese and some of the Canada geese have pulled out.
A few Canada geese are holding out on a tiny patch of open water at J.
Clark Salyer National Wildlife Refuge near Upham. Assistant refuge manager
Gary Erickson says the snow geese are gone, with most of them filtering out
slowly by the end of last week.
All but the largest wetlands in northeastern North Dakota are ice-covered.
Biologist Cami Dixon of the Devils Lake Wetland Management District says
some diving ducks are still hanging around the big lake, and a few flocks
of snow geese remain, but hunters will have to do a lot of scouting.
Nearly all the ducks and geese at Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge
near Foxholm left on Sunday. Spokesperson Darla Leslie says Lake Darling
froze over at mid-week.
Most of the snow geese at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge near Kenmare
left early this week. Assistant project leader Dan Severson says the
refuge was still holding about 5,000 Canada geese and 25,000 ducks on
Tuesday, but he doesn't expect them to stay much longer. He warns hunters
that some of the remaining ducks are pintails, and the season on that
species has closed.
In northwestern North Dakota, most ducks and geese left over the weekend.
Tim Kessler of the Crosby Wetland Management District says only a few
hundred ducks remain on a large wetland near Crosby.
In Mountrail County, most wetlands are frozen over. Lostwood National
Wildlife Refuge manager Will Meeks says most waterfowl migrated before the
weekend, although some hunting opportunities may remain on Lake Sakakawea.
Waterfowl populations have also dropped at Sand Lake National Wildlife
Refuge in northeastern South Dakota. Biologist Bill Schultze says the
refuge's lakes have begun to freeze over. The snow goose population has
dropped to 180,000 from 200,000 last week, only 2,500 Canada geese remain
after a count of 3,700 on Nov. 16, and duck numbers have declined to 70,000
from 110,000 one week ago.
The Fish and Wildlife Service is asking waterfowl and sandhill crane
hunters to avoid hunting in fields that have been manipulated prior to
being harvested. Due to the late harvest, rain and early frosts, many
farmers abandoned their corn and other crop fields. These fields are
considered baited if they have been manipulated by rolling, discing,
burning, flattening, mowing or other similar actions. These fields attract
large numbers of birds, and have the potential to give hunters an unfair