Conservation

For the Birds 20 Years out of Range

Conservation
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2014 2013 2012 2011

2012 GRANT RECIPIENTS

SportDOG Brand® Conservation Fund has awarded $21,000 to 4 conservation groups as part of our annual grant program, and another $1,000 for the Kids in Conservation grant. This year marked a record number of applications. We are excited to see this program grow. Each year has seen a record number of applicants for these grants. We believe it's important for us to continue giving something back to the conservation initiatives our team and our customers care about.

Grant recipients are chosen by the Conservation Fund Grant Review committee, and are based on which projects most align with SportDOG Brand's conservation goals. We're excited about being able to contribute to these types of projects that will benefit wildlife for generations to come.

In 2012, grants were awarded as follows:

  1. Pheasants Forever Stutsman County North Dakota Native Grass Drill -

    Pheasants Forever will receive $5,000 for a no-till drill to be stationed in Jamestown, North Dakota for use on both public and private lands throughout Stutsman County. Currently, individuals looking to seed high-diversity grassland habitat in Stutsman County have to go outside their county, and often out of state, to rent a drill or hire a private vendor to complete their habitat projects. With the current decline in Conservation Reserve Program acres, any new acre for wildlife is a win for conservation. This drill will help eliminate the battle of getting the proper equipment to get that new habitat in the ground. It will not only be beneficial to the people of Stutsman County, but also to sportsmen and women across the nation that hunt in North Dakota.

    The purchase of a no-till drill will directly benefit wildlife by creating/enhancing habitat within the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota. The region is also known as the "duck factory" of North America because of all the waterfowl in the area. Not only does the region provide habitat for wildlife species, it is a common hunting destination for sportsmen and women across the country. Not only will this project help citizens realize their habitat goals it will also benefit all of us who travel to North Dakota to enjoy the natural resources and ample wildlife populations the state has to offer. At its peak, North Dakota had 3.7 million acres of wildlife habitat as a result of the Conservation Reserve Program. However, in recent years CRP acres and the wildlife habitats they provide are being lost. With high agricultural commodity prices and CRP rental rates unable to keep pace, there is no foreseeable end in sight to the loss of wildlife habitat. North Dakota stands to lose hundreds of acres of habitat through expiring CRP contracts.

    Not all is doom and gloom for wildlife in North Dakota, however; with recent wet conditions, the opportunity to enroll cropland containing farmed wetlands and adjacent uplands into Continuous Conservation Reserve Program practices and create new habitat is better than ever. A majority of existing CRP in Stutsman County is low diversity grassland habitat. While this grassland habitat provides needed nesting for upland game birds and waterfowl, it is not high quality brooding habitat. Quality brooding habitat is essential to upland game birds such as Sharp-tailed Grouse and Ring-necked Pheasants. Brood habitat should have a high diversity of broad-leaved plants to attract insects and provide overhead protection from predators. Currently, the equipment needed to plant high diversity habitats is unavailable or difficult for producers to access in the county to accomplish habitat goals. By having proper equipment available within the county, producers enrolling in Continuous CRP will be able to establish high quality habitat.

    By purchasing this drill, Pheasants Forever hopes to establish 5,000 acres of new wildlife habitat annually through perrennial grass cover or annual crops and to enhance 1,000 acres of existing wildlife habitat through inter-seeding to increase plant diversity.

  2. Delta Waterfowl Quantifying Landscape Effects on Predation Rates of Nesting Waterfowl in North Dakota -

    Delta Waterfowl will receive $5,000 to analyze over 10,000 known nests with known survival and location to document patterns of nest loss an or success. Master’s candidate Jason Stelzer will determine the effects of landscape features (proximity to roads, wetlands, tree rows, abandoned buildings, rock piles, etc.) on nest survival. This large data set will provide detailed results to inform future habitat management.

    As hatching rates (nest success/nest survival) are the most limiting factor for duck production, understanding the patterns of nest loss is critical in deploying habitat management. Especially in light of the continued erosion of CRP nesting cover and native grasslands, understanding how landscape features positively or negatively affect hatching rates can aid managers in fashioning habitat programs with the best chance of success at increasing duck nests.

    The project will evaluate patterns of nest success on 12 study sites in Eastern/Northeastern North Dakota and the results will be transferable over a significant portion of the United States and Canadian Prairie Pothole Region.

  3. North Dakota Sharp Tail Grouse Nesting Ecology -

    The University of North Dakota will receive $5,000 to evaluate Sharp-tailed Grouse nesting ecology, specifically nest predation issues, inside and outside of gas and oil development on Sharp-tailed Grouse. Baseline data is needed on reproduction, cause-specific nest mortalities, and nesting habitat to determine the impacts of gas and oil development on population dynamics of Sharp-tailed Grouse. The Grassland Conservation Plan for Prairie Grouse has identified understanding impacts of this development on prairie grouse species as a research priority in order to better inform future management decisions for these important game birds. The broader implications of study findings should guide management efforts for prairie grouse species in the face of changing land uses and will help ensure the persistence of the bird for future generations.

    Sharp-tailed Grouse are an important and widely hunted upland game species in North Dakota. Historically, grouse hunting has played an important role in recreational hunting opportunities in North Dakota. Furthermore, the Dakota Prairie Grasslands lists the Sharp-tailed Grouse as a management indicator species within the Grasslands Plan, and is therefore a species of particular concern for the US Forest Service (USFS) in land-use planning within native grasslands of western North Dakota.

    To accomplish this, Sharp-tailed Grouse will be monitored on three sites in western North Dakota to learn how gas and oil development is impacting nest survival and cause-specific nest mortality. Female Sharp-tailed Grouse will be marked with radio-tags so they can be monitored for nesting activity throughout the 2012 and 2013 breeding seasons. When females appear to be nesting (found in the same location on two consecutive days), visual searches will be conducted to confirm the presence of a nest. When the incubating bird is away from the nest, researchers will install a small 24-hour nest camera to monitor nesting activities and identify predations in the event of nest failure. Studies have found that without the use of nest cameras, it is very difficult to accurately identify predators. Camera placement will be approximately 1 meter from the nest and camouflaged using surrounding vegetation to minimize any effects from researchers.

    Videos will be reviewed to determine differences in nest predation rates among the sites and any potential differences in nesting behaviors observed as a result of the habitat features associated with gas and oil activities. Predictive models will be constructed to examine habitat features influencing the probability of nest survival and the predators responsible for nest failures to be used to inform future management of the species with respect to predation and energy development.

  4. Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Quail Restoration -

    Tate Ervin, with help from the MS Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, will lead a project to utilize prescribed and controlled burns to cultivate approximately 175 acres of land into adequate quail habitat. Korean Lespedeza will also be planted in the area to provide a food source for quails and turkeys as well as cover for quails.

    Controlled and prescribed burns will be utilized to prepare 145 acres of land for preparation of restoring the quail population in the area. These burns are designed to maintain early stages of plant succession as required by bobwhites. They will also reduce leaves and needles from the forest floor, exposing soil so quails can easily find seeds. This encourages open foraging and travel areas for hens with young chicks as well as nurtures plants that provide food, in the form of insects and seeds, and cover for the quails. Patchy burns are best for quail populations so ring-arounds, circular areas plowed around and protected from burns, will be utilized in the winter season to provide safe nesting ground for the birds come April.

    In addition, roughly an acre of Korean Lespedeza will be planted in the spring/early summer of 2012 for quails and turkeys. This is an excellent seed producer for quails and other upland birds. The seeds are hard and may lie on the ground for long periods of time producing a dependable winter food source. Reseeds will transpire annually with a light disking each fall, therefore providing benefits for years to come.

    This project will establish proper conservation techniques to not only allow a restoration of the quail population but also to ensure the population survives and thrives for future hunters.

  5. *YOUTH GRANT* Marion County Pheasants Forever Annual Youth Day -

    Marion County Pheasants Forever will receive $1,000 to help host their 12th annual Youth Day. This event helps educate area youth on the importance of conservation. Many area youths have been introduced to the outdoors and all it has to offer through this great event.

    Marion County Pheasants Forever makes it a goal to get kids in the outdoors who might not otherwise have the opportunity. Their annual youth event accomplishes this by providing area youth enjoyable activities only offered by the outdoors. The event will be hosted November 12, 2012 in Waldo, OH.

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