LANSING, MI – Extreme cold conditions on Michigan’s waters are causing some trouble for Michigan’s waterfowl. The exceptionally cold winter weather of the past few weeks has caused the rivers and waters of the Great Lakes to freeze further into the center, similar to conditions experienced last year.
Large concentrations of ducks like canvasbacks, long-tailed ducks, redheads and scaup are gathering in the remaining areas of open water on the Great Lakes, including western Lake Erie, and on large rivers like the Detroit and St. Clair rivers. With so many ducks in a small area, and a fairly small amount of food, some of these ducks are becoming malnourished.
Many of the ducks congregating on these rivers and lakes are diving ducks, which rely on a diet of aquatic vegetation, mollusks and small fish. Much of the area on the water where these ducks are congregating is deep, and weed growth is minimal, so food for these ducks can be very scarce. The food that is available is depleted quickly by large concentrations of ducks.
The Department of Natural Resources urges the public not to attempt to rescue ducks. Though it is difficult to see wildlife in distress, ice conditions are unpredictable, especially near rivers where currents can be swift. Human safety is of the utmost concern.
The DNR does not expect these losses to negatively affect overall duck populations.