Electric Fencing: A Technique Designed to Increase Waterfowl Nesting Success
Gruenwald, Tim R.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, College of Natural Resources
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Predation is a major factor causing the decline of waterfowl nesting success in the prairie pothole region of North America. Predator reduction using lethal methods increases nesting success but is unacceptable. The study was conducted in west-central Minnesota during the 1980 and 1981 waterfowl nesting seasons. The objective was to determine if electric fences would function in field situations as a non-lethal predator management technique and increase waterfowl nesting success. Six electric fences, enclosing 105 ha of nesting cover, were constructed on Waterfowl Production Areas (WPA's). Nearby WPA's consisting of similar cover served as controls. Waterfowl nesting, simulated nest, and small mammal relative abundance studies were conducted to determine differences between predator activity in fenced (treatment) and unfenced (control) areas. Results for the 2-year study period: waterfowl nesting success was 60% and 24% as calculated by the conventional method and 35% and 8% as calculated by the Mayfield method in treatment and control areas respectively; simulated nest success was 48% and 25% in treatment and control areas respectively; small mammal relative abundance (captures/100 trap nights) was 17.14 and 10.20 in treatment and control areas respectively. Based on a 20-year proration, each additional duckling produced in the treatment areas cost an estimated $2.18. Dikes, peninsulas, and small areas (1-10 ha) that are managed for maximum waterfowl production are recommended locations for electric fences.