Published December 16, 2012, 05:05 AM

OUTDOOR FACTOIDS: Predator trapping continues to be an effective tool for improving waterfowl

Collection of outdoor facts and notes

By: Herald Staff Report, Grand Forks Herald

Predator trapping continues to be an effective tool for improving waterfowl nesting success, Delta Waterfowl said.

The conservation and research group released its 2012 predator management research report earlier this month, documenting the improvement in nest success on selected trap sites in North Dakota and Manitoba.

Delta said the most significant results were found in the Parklands of Manitoba, an area of intense agricultural activity, isolated aspen bluffs and limited nesting habitat. Delta’s trapping program took place on a 16-square-mile area near Minnedosa, Man., and a 25-square-mile block near Shoal Lake, Man.

Nest success for 2012 was 34.3 percent and 17.1 percent, respectively. By comparison, 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 nontrapped areas.

“We’re extremely impressed at the results our trappers are getting,” Joel Brice, vice president of conservation for Delta Waterfowl, said in a statement. “In Manitoba, there’s a tenfold increase in nest success. This is incredible.”

Delta’s research this year continued to focus on “low grass” areas with high breeding duck densities but little nesting cover.

In North Dakota, nest success on two 36-square-mile trapped blocks 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 percentage — the number needed to simply maintain waterfowl populations — is 15 percent to 20 percent.

Delta will continue predator management research in 2013 on trapped and nontrapped low-grass blocks in North Dakota and Manitoba. Research also will focus on when and how to implement predator management on a larger scale.

— Delta Waterfowl

Heavy snow last weekend in parts of Minnesota will delay the forming of safe ice on many bodies of water, and the Department of Natural Resources is reminding people that snow does not mean safe ice.

Ice in many parts of the state, especially farther south, still isn’t thick enough for most recreational activities.

Capt. Greg Salo, DNR regional enforcement supervisor, said snowmobilers need to be extremely cautious because riders might not realize several trails take them over ponds, wetlands and lakes.

Last winter, four people died in Minnesota after falling through thin ice.

The DNR recommends:

• 4 inches of ice for walking.

• 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.

• 8 to 12 inches for a car.

• 12 to 15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

— Minnesota DNR

A coalition of retired national park employees has painted a gloomy picture of what will happen to “America’s Best Idea” — the title of Ken Burns’ acclaimed documentary — if the impending “fiscal cliff” comes to pass.

According to the 850-member Coalition of National Park Retirees, the resulting 8.3 percent cut in park budgets likely would result in the termination of thousands of seasonal park rangers and force the shutdown of some national parks.

Seasonal employees who provide the bulk of visitor services in the national parks during the busy summer months would probably not be hired because of the lack of available funds. The 8.3 percent mandated cut totals almost $190 million for the National Park Service.

— Coalition of National Park Retirees