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Wetland Condition Update for Duck Season
North Dakota Ag Connection - 09/23/2020

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual fall wetland survey indicates fair to good wetland conditions for duck hunting throughout the state.

Andy Dinges, Department migratory game bird biologist, said the number of duck hunting wetlands are down about 38% statewide from very wet conditions last fall, but still only 2% below the long-term average. He said duck hunting wetlands in the south central and southeast regions are still relatively abundant and both are about 40% above the long-term.

One region that has also slightly improved since last fall is the northeast, which has seen about a 9% increase in the number of duck hunting wetlands holding water, and has the most duck hunting wetlands of any region. Dinges said the northwest and north central regions are still holding on to a good number of duck hunting wetlands, but are now both about 20% below average.

"Wetland conditions were good to excellent in early spring, but much of the state has received average to below average precipitation since mid-March, with the exception of some areas in the eastern part of the state," Dinges said. "However, we are still holding on to most of our semi-permanent wetlands. Most of these remaining wetlands are in good shape, providing a promising outlook for the season. Some wetlands are certainly beginning to dry up and hunters should expect mud margins around some wetlands, possibly making hunting more difficult."

The quality of waterfowl hunting in North Dakota is largely determined by weather conditions and migration patterns. Dinges said fair to good reproduction for ducks in traditional breeding areas this year still makes for good fall hunting potential in North Dakota.

"Hunters should always scout because of ever changing conditions and distribution of waterfowl," he added. "Hunters should also be cautious driving off-trail to avoid soft spots, and while encountering areas of tall vegetation that could be a fire hazard."

The fall wetland survey is conducted in mid-September, just prior to the waterfowl hunting season to provide an assessment of conditions duck hunters can expect. Duck hunting wetlands are classified as seasonal and semi-permanent wetlands.

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