Survey Completed and Conditions Improve in Northeastern Montana

Written by Rob Spangler
Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Rob SpanglerWe were happy to end the survey on a better note and see some more water with basins at 50-75% of capacity. Recent rains have helped conditions quite a bit, but the water has come a little too late to make a big difference in eastern Montana. We observed large aggregations of gadwall in particular, similar to what we observed to the south. That said, we saw more waterfowl breeding pairs than we have during the entire survey here which was encouraging. The best conditions lie from just north of Malta, Montana running east to the border of Montana and North Dakota. The Medicine Lake Wildlife Refuge was holding good numbers of waterfowl, including canvasback and a lot of gadwall, northern shoveler and of course, mallard. This refuge was established back in 1935 to preserve wildlife and includes over 28,000 acres of habitat, and was definitely the bright spot for this year’s survey.

Conditions were somewhat better near the border of the U.S. and Canada.

Conditions were somewhat better near the border of the U.S. and Canada. Photo Credit: Jon Klimstra, USFWS

Flying the border between the U.S and Canada. My transponder was lighting up continuously the entire time as I was closely monitored by our friendly Border Patrol.

Flying the border between the U.S and Canada. My transponder was lighting up continuously the entire time as I was closely monitored by our friendly Border Patrol. Photo Credit: Jon Klimstra, USFWS

In farming country around Havre, there are very few wetlands. This went on for miles but is characteristic of the area. There is not naturally a lot of wetland habitat here.

In farming country around Havre, there are very few wetlands. This went on for miles but is characteristic of the area. There is not naturally a lot of wetland habitat here. Photo Credit: Jon Klimstra, USFWS