GPS enabled ducks to map the Canada's Least understood lake
“No matter where these ducks go in the world, we’ll know where they are,” Petrie said.
According to Petrie, “millions” of waterfowl, representing more than 20 species, make use of Lake St. Clair’s wetlands every year. Birds can stop and feed in the area before migrating as far as Baffin Island.
However, a confluence of factors is threatening their habitat.
“Land prices in the area range between $15,000 and $20,000 per acre,” Petrie said. “A lot of people are looking at the profit margins associated with growing vegetables and draining wetlands for farming.”
There’s also the issue of wind turbines. Petrie says waterfowl will avoid the structures, even if they’re near food sources.
“It’s tantamount to habitat loss if they’re put in places they shouldn’t be,” he said.
By tracking how ducks make use of the wetlands and how habitat loss is affecting their survival rates, Petrie says his research will inform conservation efforts in the region.
“For some people, it’s a study about ducks… but we’re also using ducks as a vehicle to study the health of the landscape,” he said.
Petrie called Lake St. Clair one the “least understood” waterways in the Great Lakes basin.
Each of the GPS trackers costs about $4,000 and trapping the wary waterfowl can be expensive. To offset costs, Petrie and company are soliciting donations. For a donation of $1,000, individuals or groups can name one of the ducks and track them online via Long Point Waterfowl’s website.
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