Eastern Dakotas Ground Crew Update

Written by Pam Garrettson
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Pam Garrettson.

We have now completed 4 of the air-ground segments that are used to calculate correction factors for the ducks (individual species) and ponds seen by the air crew. We have seen just about every species expected for this crew area. Blue-winged teal lead the pack as usual, followed by mallards this year thus far. On yesterday’s segment near Oldham, SD, we counted quite a few redheads, but we don’t expect to get into too many divers until our segments on the Missouri Coteau, a region of rolling hills, pocked with deep semi-permanent wetlands.

By contrast, the Drift Prairie, where we have been surveying, is flatter, and wetlands there tend to be temporary or seasonal. They can be quite productive, but the flatter ground is more amenable to tilled agriculture, and the smaller wetlands are vulnerable to being drained, tiled, or simply plowed through. We have seen some of this, as well as land that has been de-enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program. CRP is a soil conservation program that has greatly benefited ducks and other wildlife, but CRP payments currently offered in South Dakota aren’t economically competitive with what landowners can make by renting land or putting it into crop production.

A pair of shovelers swims through cattails on a wetland near Lake Andes, South Dakota.  (Credit:  Joshua J. White, USFWS)

A pair of shovelers swims through cattails on a wetland near Lake Andes, South Dakota. Credit: Joshua J. White, USFWS

A pair of blue-winged teal in upland cover near Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge in southern South Dakota.  Photo by Joshua J. White. (Credit:  Joshua J. White, USFWS)

A pair of blue-winged teal in upland cover near Lake Andes National Wildlife Refuge in southern South Dakota. Photo by Joshua J. White.Credit: Joshua J. White, USFWS

We got the truck a little dirty but didn't get stuck (Credit:  Joshua J. White, USFWS)

We got the truck a little dirty but didn't get stuck Credit: Joshua J. White, USFWS

Pam Garrettson looks for ducks on the Oldham airground. (Credit:  Joshua J. White, USFWS)

Pam Garrettson looks for ducks on the Oldham airground Credit: Joshua J. White, USFWS

A bull supervises the Eastern Dakotas ground crew on the Oldham air-ground. (Credit:  Joshua J. White, USFWS)

Bull near Oldham, SD Credit: P. Garrettson, USFWS