Fast Start in the Western Dakotas!

Written by Kammie Kruse
Saturday, May 14, 2011

Photo of Kammie Kruse.I have spent the previous 9 years working on the Eastern Dakotas ground crew, but this year I have moved over to run the Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana ground crew. I had always heard that the two crew areas were quite different in habitat and types of wetlands and now I have seen it firsthand. In the Eastern Dakotas crew area there are a lot of natural wetlands and dugouts. The Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana crew area is dominated by artificial wetlands (stock ponds), and there are more river drainages.

We had a stretch of good weather and hit the ground running this year. We have completed our air-ground segments in the western Dakotas and are now in Montana with only 2 transects left!

As has been reported by Shawn Bayless (pilot biologist for Western Dakotas and Eastern Montana) and most of the other crew areas, the wetland conditions seem to be in good to improved condition. We use aerial photos taken in 1997 to help us find the wetlands on our air-ground transects, because ‘97 was considered a pretty wet year. Well, in some of our areas this year we have been discovering wetlands and drainages that appear on the photos as dry beds, so I think this will be one of the highest counts for wetlands and ducks in recent memory. We are actually still seeing snow remnants in some of the shelter belts! I am enjoying seeing the different habitats in this crew area, and I am looking forward to our last 2 transects which are located in the northern area of Eastern Montana.

Our Hayes AG runs along the Old Deadwood Wagon Trail.

Our Hayes AG runs along the Old Deadwood Wagon Trail. Photo by Kammie Kruse, US FWS

Ground crew member Gibran Suleiman conducts a sneak attack so that he does not flush the ducks off the stock dam.

Ground crew member Gibran Suleiman conducts a sneak attack so that he does not flush the ducks off the stock dam. Photo by Kammie Kruse, US FWS

Towards the end of our Garrison AG we were surprised by the appearance of 2 moose!

Towards the end of our Garrison AG we were surprised by the appearance of 2 moose! Photo by G. Suleiman, US FWS

This metal sculpture can be seen from I94 in North Dakota.  It is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture.  This is just one of many metal sculptures that can be seen on the

This metal sculpture can be seen from I94 in North Dakota. It is in the Guiness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture. This is just one of many metal sculptures that can be seen on the "Enchanted Highway". Photo by Kammie Kruse, US FWS