BISMARCK – Delta Waterfowl is set to more than double its fleet of mallard-producing hen house nesting structures in North Dakota after receiving a $105,000 grant from the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund
“Hen Houses are truly a mallard’s best friend,” Tom Hutchens, an OHF board member, said in a statement. “Supporting this grant request from the Delta Waterfowl Foundation was an absolute no-brainer. Delta Hen Houses are economical, effective and farmer-friendly. That makes them the near-perfect OHF proposal.”
Approved earlier this month, the grant will fund the construction and installation of 600 new hen house nesting structures in the heart of North Dakota’s Prairie Pothole Region during the next three years. Delta will secure matching funds to cover 10 years of maintenance on the new fleet.
Installation will begin next winter, ultimately bringing the number of Delta Waterfowl hen houses in North Dakota to more than 1,000, and pushing the total in the U.S. and Canada well past 10,000. Locations where the new hen houses can be installed to produce the most ducks are currently being evaluated.
North Dakota’s OHF was established in 2013 to award grants to support conservation practices such as enhancing wildlife populations, restoring habitat and providing access for sportsmen and women. The money comes from oil and gas production tax revenues. This marks the third OHF grant Delta has received for hen houses. In total, the grants will have placed more than 900 of the nesting structures on the North Dakota landscape. Another OHF grant in 2015 provided $1.75 million toward Delta’s Working Wetlands pilot project, which resulted in the historic official rollout of the groundbreaking conservation program by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in the spring of 2020.
“The Duck Hunters Organization is honored to have the enthusiastic and ongoing support of the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund,” said Matt Chouinard, Delta’s senior waterfowl programs and research manager. “Its grants are responsible for the construction and installation of the vast majority of Hen Houses in the state.”
Hen houses are a primary focus of Delta’s science-based, cost-effective duck production efforts, the conservation group said. Mallards using a hen house nesting structure are up to 12 times more likely to hatch a nest than those nesting on the ground in upland grass cover. In many areas, nest success in hen houses is 60% to 90%, compared with less than 10% for nests in the grass.
In combination with predator management work, the hen houses allow Delta to boost duck production across the Prairie Pothole Region, Chouinard said. “That benefits hunters all the way to the bottom of every flyway,” he said.