The Wetland Wildlife Populations and Research Group, based in Bemidji, is responsible for wetland and wildlife research, waterfowl population monitoring and providing guidance to wildlife managers and administrators to make informed decisions. The Group has a statewide focus, but influences research and management nationwide through work with the Mississippi Flyway Council and other venues. Staff often works cooperatively with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, several Universities, and other partners. Recent activities of Wetland Group and associated staff include:
- Monitor waterfowl breeding populations using annual aerial surveys: 1) Estimate waterfowl and wetland numbers in 40% of Minnesota during the May Waterfowl Breeding Ground Population and Habitat Survey, 2) Estimate number of breeding Canada geese in Minnesota during a late-April helicopter survey, and 3) Estimate ring-necked duck breeding population size and distribution in their core breeding range in north central Minnesota using a helicopter survey in June.
- Monitor Minnesota breeding duck populations through annual summer banding of flightless young ducks to determine harvest distributions and recovery rates.
- Monitor waterfowl populations as part of a North American banding program during preseason banding operations in northwestern Minnesota in September each year.
- Estimate survival and harvest rates, and harvest distribution of Canada geese by annual banding in late June and early July throughout much of Minnesota.
- Estimate the number of Sandhill cranes during the breeding season in NW Minnesota.
- Prepare weekly reports in the fall on wetland habitat conditions, waterfowl migration and hunting success summarizing wildlife manager reports and aerial waterfowl surveys.
- Represent the State on the Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Section, guiding waterfowl population and habitat management in Minnesota and North America.
- Conduct research on a collaborative, LCCMR-funded study to examine the role of landscape features, land use, fish, and aquatic plants on shallow lake ecology in 6 study sites in different landscape types throughout Minnesota.
- Conducted research on the of ring-necked ducks ecology, including nest success, hen survival during brood-rearing, and post-fledging survival and refuge use of young ducks in the late summer and fall using radio-telemetry and remote towers.
- Conducted research on faucet snails and the trematodes responsible for the lesser scaup and American coot die-offs in northern Minnesota in recent years.
- Continue long-term research to examine ecology of forest wetlands, including effects of stand age after forest harvest, leaving timber buffers around wetlands in clearcuts, and hydrology of these important basins.
- Collaborate with the Minnesota Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit to conduct human dimensions surveys of Minnesota waterfowl hunter and document hunter preferences, satisfaction, and opinions on management issues.
Jeff Lawrence, Group Leader, Bemidji