COLD TEMPS MOVE WATERFOWL; SOME GOOD HUNTING OPPORTUNITIES REMAIN
Cold temperatures and strong winds have driven many ducks and geese out of
North Dakota, but hunting opportunities remain good in some parts of the
state and excellent in others. However, the weekly report from the U.S.
Fish and Wildlife Service warns that the birds could move out quickly.
Some of the best duck hunting opportunities are in southeastern North
Dakota. Tewaukon National Wildlife Refuge biologist Kristine Askerooth
says mallards have been moving into the area since the weekend. She
reports flocks of more than 5,000 mallards feeding in harvested fields near
Milnor, Forman, Hankinson and south of Lidgerwood. Askerooth notes there
has been an increase in the numbers of Canada geese, but no large flocks of
snow geese and few divers. She says the thin ice that forms overnight on
small wetlands has been melting off by noon on most days.
A lot of snow geese have reached northeastern North Dakota. Biologist Cami
Dixon of the Devils Lake Wetland Management District says additional
mallards have been moving in, and she is also seeing large rafts of scaup
and other diving ducks on Devils Lake. However, cold overnight
temperatures are icing over many wetlands.
Large numbers of snow geese have moved through northwestern North Dakota
this week. Tim Kessler of the Crosby Wetland Management District says the
Noonan area had about 100,000 snow geese on Monday, but was down to 30,000
the next day. The Crosby area held another 50,000. Kessler reports the
single-digit overnight temperatures have frozen nearly all the wetlands,
and virtually no ducks remain. He says very few small groups of Canada
geese and tundra swans have been seen on ice on a few wetlands.
Many of the snow geese that arrived at Des Lacs National Wildlife Refuge
near Kenmare in late October have moved on. Refuge manager Dan Severson
estimates the refuge was holding about 20,000 snow geese at mid-week, along
with 2,000 Canada geese and up to 20,000 ducks. He says the ducks are
almost all mallards. Severson warns that the numbers are changing daily,
and most lakes are frozen over.
The hard freeze early this week forced most waterfowl out of Mountrail
County. Lostwood National Wildlife Refuge operations specialist Chad Zorn
says a few pockets of ducks and swans remain, but hunting opportunities are
Most ducks and tundra swans have left Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge
northwest of Minot, but snow goose numbers may have seen an increase at
mid-week. Manager Tom Pabian believes the refuge was holding at least
40,000 snow geese–with large groups at opposite ends of the refuge.
Another 2,000 Canada geese remain.
Fair numbers of ducks and geese remained on Audubon National Wildlife
Refuge near Coleharbor at mid-week. Wetland manager Kathy Baer says
northern Sheridan County is holding large numbers of snow geese–both on the
remaining open water and in harvested fields.
Cold temperatures and strong winds have moved many birds out of the Valley
City area, but average numbers remain. Wetland manager Ed Meendering of
the Valley City Wetland Management District reports seeing some large
groups of Canada geese and scattered groups of snow geese, as well as
increasing numbers of diving ducks on large wetlands. He says most of the
crops in his five-county district are off, and birds are feeding in
harvested corn fields.
Hunters are finding large flocks of mallards in harvested corn fields in
Dickey, LaMoure, Logan and McIntosh counties. Refuge manager Mick Erickson
of the Kulm Wetland Management District says some Canada geese remain in
the area, and flocks of snow geese are moving into and through the area.
Most of the geese have migrated out, but good numbers of mallards remain at
Arrowwood National Wildlife Refuge north of Jamestown. Biologist Paulette
Scherr believes the refuge and surrounding areas are holding 13,000
mallards, but only 1,000 or so Canada geese, about 1,000 snow geese and 800
tundra swans. She suggests hunters head for big water and follow the
birds. Scherr notes food supplies are plentiful, but wetlands are icing
The cold nights have chased many of the ducks and geese out of Wells and
Stutsman counties. Biologist Chris Flann of the Chase Lake Wetland
Management District says the corn harvest is progressing well, presenting
fair opportunities for hunters seeking the remaining mallards. He also
reports a good snow goose movement through the area. However, Flann says
most ducks are gone and many wetlands are freezing.
Colder temperatures have driven most of the ducks and geese out of Long
Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Burleigh and Kidder counties. Refuge
manager Paul VanNingen says the refuge is still holding some Canada geese,
snow geese, tundra swans and a few diving ducks, but most have moved to
larger, deeper water. He warns sandhill crane hunters there was a
confirmed sighting of five whooping cranes near Wing early this week.
The number of snow geese at Sand Lake National Wildlife Refuge near
Aberdeen, S.D. has almost tripled from last week. Biologist Bill Schultze
says the refuge was holding 220,000 snow geese, along with 5,000 Canada
geese, about 125,000 ducks and 2,400 tundra swans at mid-week. He reports
mallards continue to be the dominant duck species, with some pintails,
gadwalls and green-winged teal, although a few small flocks of lesser scaup
have arrived. Schultze says some of the smaller wetlands have frozen over,
but he believes the larger ones will remain open.
Anyone witnessing a wildlife violation is urged to call the Report All
Poachers hotline at 800-472-2121. Callers can remain anonymous and could
receive a reward.