The North Dakota Game and Fish Department’s annual midwinter waterfowl survey in early January indicated about 99,000 Canada geese in the state.
Andy Dinges, migratory game bird biologist, said that number likely would have been higher, but the blizzard that hit North Dakota in late December undoubtedly pushed some birds south prior to the survey.
“However, with the warming period and subsequent snow melt that occurred after the storm, wintering conditions remained generally favorable,” Dinges said. “We still ended up holding on to a fair number of Canada geese in the state.”
During the recent survey, an estimated 77,000 Canada geese were observed on the Missouri River, and another 11,000 were observed on Lake Sakakawea, which still had substantial open water on the lower portion of the lake. In addition, about 9,000 Canada geese were observed on Nelson Lake in Oliver County. Dinges said after summarizing the numbers, an additional 5,300 mallards were tallied statewide, most of which were recorded on Nelson Lake.
Lake Sakakawea officially iced over on Jan. 12, just days after the aerial survey was completed.
The 10-year average (2009-18) for the midwinter survey in North Dakota is 87,800 Canada geese and 21,600 mallards.
All states participate in the midwinter survey during the same time frame, to reduce the possibility of counting birds more than once.