The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated a record 222,890 Canada geese in the state. Andy Dinges, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 109,820 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 25,370 were scattered on Nelson Lake in Oliver County.  Lake Sakakawea, which is [...]

The North Dakota Game and Fish Department's annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated a record 222,890 Canada geese in the state.

Andy Dinges, migratory game bird biologist, said an estimated 109,820 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 25,370 were scattered on Nelson Lake in Oliver County.  Lake Sakakawea, which is typically iced-over in early January but had substantial open water during this year's survey, had 87,395 geese on the lake itself.  Dinges said after summarizing the numbers, an additional 15,440 mallards were tallied statewide.

'Little snow accumulation occurred up to the survey date and the availability of food should have been good,' Dinges said. 'Overall, wintering conditions were excellent.'

The first large waves of migrating waterfowl, according to Dinges, occurred during the first two weeks in November. Cold conditions during the third week of November pushed many waterfowl through the state.

'After that short cold spell, moderate temperatures, with little snow accumulation, allowed birds to remain in the state on the Missouri River System up until the survey date, and on a few larger wetlands in the northwest and south central portions of the state until mid-December,' he said.