Ducks Unlimited Canada studies waterfowl’s preferred habitat designs

If you were a duck flying high over Canada’s boreal forest, where would you stop to build your nest? What if a restored wetland suddenly appeared on the landscape? Would this habitat be attractive?

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) and Klondike Placer Miners’ Association (KPMA) have engaged in a partnership to better understand waterfowl use of reclaimed wetlands. This research includes approximately 70 post-mined and reclaimed open water wetlands formed from the flooding of mining cuts and man-made ponds in and around the Indian River watershed in the Yukon.

The Yukon’s boreal forest is dotted with valuable wetlands. It’s also rich in resources, with mining being an important economic driver in this territory.

The Indian River watershed, near Dawson City, includes approximately 550,000 acres of forested hills and valley bottoms. It includes a mixture of fens, swamps, and open water wetlands, ideal habitat for more than 20 breeding and migratory waterbird species. This area is frequented by the horned grebe, which is listed as special concern.

“DUC’s priority is to protect key waterfowl habitat whenever possible and work with industry partners to advance sustainable land use practices in areas where impacts are unavoidable,” states Jamie Kenyon, conservation specialist with DUC. “This research will help determine waterfowl’s habitat preferences in wetlands created by mining development.”

This research will help develop best management practices for future wetland reclamation projects by industries working in the boreal forest.

This project was undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada through the federal Department of Environment and Climate Change, and from research grants provided by the Yukon Government. DUC matched the funding received and will oversee all aspects of this two-year study.

“By providing science that supports biodiversity, enhancing the ecological functions of existing and newly created wetlands and providing materials to industry to support and encourage meaningful stewardship of wetlands, DUC demonstrates its role as a leader in wetland conservation and trusted collaborator with industry partners,” says Kenyon. “By advancing our understanding of waterfowl’s preferences when it comes to wetland features, we can support decision-makers and land managers in implementing best management practices that help balance ecological and economic values that matter to Yukoners.”

Results of this study, expected in March 2018, will be shared by DUC with the mining industry, government, First Nations and interested parties.

Ducks Unlimited Canada (DUC) is the leader in wetland conservation. A registered charity, DUC partners with government, industry, non-profit organizations and landowners to conserve wetlands that are critical to waterfowl, wildlife and the environment. Learn more at ducks.ca.