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Wetland Management District

A female gadwall swims with her duckling.  Female gadwalls are mottled brown in color to help camouflage them during nesting season.
44401 134A St.
Waubay, SD   57273
E-mail: waubay@fws.gov
Phone Number: 605-947-4521
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Waubay Wetland Management District provides prime breeding and nesting habitat for a variety of waterfowl species.
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Waubay Wetland Management District

Waubay Wetland Management District (WMD) is located in the "Coteau des Prairie," or prairie hills region of South Dakota. It includes more than 300 waterfowl production areas (WPA) in six counties of northeastern South Dakota. The WPAs range from 40 acres to more than 1,600 acres in size, comprising a total of 40,000 acres. WPAs provide vital wildlife habitat in a landscape of cropland and pasture.

Access to all WPAs is limited to foot traffic only. Grass parking lots are available at many of the larger WPAs to provide off-road parking. There are no facilities or designated hiking trails. WPAs tend to be used very heavily during hunting seasons, but they also provide wonderful opportunities to explore the natural areas of South Dakota at other times of the year.

Getting There . . .
WPAs are found at various locations throughout the six counties that make up Waubay WMD: Clark, Codington, Day, Grant, Marshall, and Roberts. They are posted with green and white signs. Sportsmen's Atlases, which show the location of each WPA and other Federal and State public lands in great detail, can be purchased from the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks.

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Wildlife and Habitat

The Prairie Coteau is dotted with numerous lakes and wetlands. It is an important part of the Prairie Pothole Region, the largest duck production area of the United States.

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During the early 1900s, a combination of drought, market hunting, and wetland drainage forced waterfowl populations into a steep decline. In addition, thousands of acres of grasslands were being plowed up for farmland and other development.

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Management Activities
Habitat management on the District is directed toward improving and maintaining native prairie and planted grasslands. Short-duration intensive cattle grazing, haying, and periodic prescribed burning are used to manage native grasses and forbs (flowers) for wildlife that use the prairie. Crop lands are replanted with native grasses or dense nesting cover to benefit ground nesting birds. Vegetation transects are completed each year on selected WPAs to monitor grassland condition and determine response to these management practices.

Canada thistle and leafy spurge are two invasive species that can take over grasslands. To combat these noxious weeds, a combination of chemicals, mowing, haying, burning, and beneficial insect releases are used.

Most lakes and marshes are left to the whims of natural wet/dry cycles typical of northern prairies. However, a few wetlands have water control structures where more active water management is possible for the benefit of waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds.