Delta Waterfowl this week released some results on its on-going study of how predator trapping affects waterfowl nesting success.
The study keyed on trap sites in Manitoba and North Dakota. One study area focused on a site in Manitoba that has intense agriculture activity and not much in the way of nesting cover.
Delta’s trapping took place on a 16-square-mile area near Minnedosa, Manitoba, and a
25-square-mile block near Shoal Lake, Manitoba. Nest success for 2012 was 34.3 percent and
17.1 percent, respectively.
Two control blocks, where no trapping took place, had nest success rates of 0.07 percent and 0.78 percent. In other words, less than one out of every 100 nests successfully hatched in the non-trapped areas.
It’s no secret predators like coyotes and skunks take a huge toll on nests not only of ducks, but of upland game species as well.
The Delta study is putting numbers to what those losses are. In North Dakota, on two
36-square-mile trapped blocks, nest success was 46.63 percent and 40.69 percent.
More than four out of every 10 nests successfully hatched. On two adjacent control blocks, where no trapping took place, nest success was 10.55 percent and 27.54 percent.
The break-even point, or the percentage needed to maintain waterfowl populations, is 15 percent to 20 percent.
A different blood trail
Not many have ever said that criminals are necessarily smart, and apparently the same holds true when it comes to wildlife law violators.
The Tahoe (Calif.) Daily Tribune had a piece this week about two men arrested for poaching a deer.
They were arrested after numerous people called in reports of an SUV driving through a neighborhood dripping blood.
The men apparently shot the deer with a shotgun and threw it in the back of the SUV.
But the deer wasn’t dead and “came to” in the back of the vehicle as they were driving. According to the article, one or both of the men stabbed the deer as it struggled in the back of the SUV, and splattered blood all over the inside of the vehicle, which dripped on the streets.
Seems like a good time to put in a plug about the RAP, or Report All Poachers call line.
A couple of poaching cases in the area have made the news in recent weeks: the pronghorn antelope northwest of Mandan and bull moose near Moffit.
In a culture where hunting has so many stereotypes, many of them negative, incidents like these cast a dark shadow on everyone who hunts.
Of course, there is no way to know if the killing of these animals was done by hunters, at least not until they are caught and convicted.
In cases like these, timeliness is the most important factor in catching someone who apparently places no value on laws or the resource.
You don’t have to — nor should you — be a hero and confront someone who is breaking the law in these situations.
But it is incumbent on everyone who respects wildlife and the environment to take a stand when we witness someone showing such blatant disregard for nature.