Shallow Lakes and Wetlands for Wildlife
Wetlands and shallow lakes that are high in quality provide critical habitats for waterfowl nesting, brooding and migration. Lake and wetland management can be used to improve or maintain these habitats for ducks and geese. These water body types play two important roles in waterfowl production, which can be enhanced through wildlife and habitat management. The first is providing abundant energy in the form of aquatic insects for egg-laying hens. These bugs are most important for diving ducks, but are also used by dabbling ducks.
The second contribution of quality shallow lakes and wetlands is in providing high quality duckling brood habitat. High quality brood habitat leads to increased ducking survival rates and duckling survival is a critical component to improving the duck recruitment rate. Some of these water bodies may also provide great recreational fishing.
Habitat Management on Lakes & Wetlands
Emergent aquatic plants such as rushes, wild rice and rooted common cattail enhance duckling habitat by providing protective cover from weather and predators, and by providing habitat for aquatic insects, which are crucial for duckling growth and survival. An abundance of food reduces the time ducklings spend foraging and increases their survival rates. The quality of shallow lakes providing brood habitat has dramatically declined due to a combination of factors including prolonged periods of high water that favor winter survival of undesirable fish. In many cases, these fish reduce the invertebrates and aquatic plants necessary for duck brood survival.
Waterfowl, specifically ducks, are driven by their need for food and rest during fall migration. Temporary and seasonal wetlands and lakes sometimes fill these needs for dabbling ducks during extremely wet falls, particularly within the prairie regions. However, these ponds are usually dry during the fall. With this is mind, it is often the larger more permanent wetlands and shallow lakes that provide the most important fall habitat. However, proper water-depth management of lakes wetlands on private lands can provide nesting, migrating and wintering waterfowl the habitat that they need.
Managing Private Wetlands, Lakes & Ponds
The impacts of wetland drainage are numerous and include direct loss of habitat for wetland-dependent species. Landowners can provide important habitat on their property and increase recreational hunting opportunities. There are also many state and federal programs available for cost-share with regards to wildlife management for waterfowl and other wildlife species, specifically for shallow lakes, wetlands.