Wildlife Management Techniques
Deer Flat National Wildlife
Refuge is managed to improve and maintain its variety of wildlife
habitats. Techniques used at the refuge include
and Creating Wildlife Habitat
maintain natural nesting habitat by setting prescribed fires
on the refuge islands. These fires simulate flooding that occurred
before the Snake River was dammed. Fires clear some of the shrubby
undergrowth and allow the return of grasses that serve as better
nesting habitat for geese and ducks.
staff also create wildlife habitat. Wetlands have been created below
the upper dam of Lake Lowell to provide feeding, nesting, and resting
habitat for a variety of wetlands-dependent species, including mallards,
sora rails, yellow-headed blackbirds, and other wildlife.
addition, each year local farmers grow corn, beans, peas, wheat,
and alfalfa on approximately 240 acres of irrigated refuge croplands.
Farming at Deer Flat is literally "for the birds." In
summer, pheasants, deer, and other wildlife feed and nest in these
fields. In fall, the farmers harvest a share of the crop and leave
the rest. In fall and winter, Canada geese and other wildlife harvest
the remaining crop. Return to top
Artificial Nesting Habitat
staff and volunteers construct and place artificial nesting habitat,
including many wood duck nesting boxes and several osprey platforms.
Wood duck boxes provide nesting habitat for wood ducks as well as
a variety of other cavity-nesting birds Return to
staff and volunteers survey waterfowl populations throughout the
year to monitor the health of the regional population and help Idaho
Fish and Game set hunting limits. Each winter, waterfowl are
surveyed weekly at Lake Lowell. Each spring, goose nests are surveyed
on the Snake River islands. Each fall, migratory ducks and geese
are caught and banded. Ducks banded at Deer Flat have been recovered
as far away as Guatemala, and a goose banded at Deer Flat was recovered
24 years after banding. Return
plants like purple loosestrife, cheatgrass, and Russian olive have
become a major problem at the refuge because they don't provide
good wildlife habitat. Invasive plants are usually not native to
the area, having been either accidentally or intentionally introduced.
Unfortunately, their natural enemies were not introduced as well,
so they often crowd out natives.
Deer Flat, we are trying a variety of techniques to battle invasive
plants. In the past several years, we've released insects that specialize
in eating invasive plants like purple loosestrife and Canada thistle.
In addition, we've mechanically removed Russian olives and revegetated
with native plants like skunkbush sumac.
Once the exotic grass
cheatgrass invades an area, it is difficult for native plants to
return. This is particularly a problem after fires, when cheatgrass
can take over in areas that were previously dominated by sagebrush
and other natives. Areas infested by cheatgrass are at greater risk
of burning again, are of lower value to wildlife, and are less appealing
to recreationists. Return to top.
reduce the risk of large, difficult-to-control wildfire that threatens
wildlife habitat and our neighbors' homes and businesses, the refuge
conducted several fuels-reduction projects in summer 2002 and fall
2003. On the south side of the lake, a mulching brush-cutter selectively
cut trees and brush up to 2 feet in diameter and reduced them to
mulch. This thinning reduces fire risk and also
increases habitat diversity and creates edge habitats that are particularly
popular with wildlife like deer and rabbits. In addition, by leaving
the mulch on site, nutrients are returned to the soil and the mulch
helps to retain moisture and prevent soil erosion. Return
Check-out our wildlife and plant
Wildlife through the seasons
Tips for watching wildlife