Waterfowl killed after mistaking wet roads for wetlands

A mallard in flight. Hundreds of ducks and other waterfowl were killed in Iowa after mistaking wet roads for wetlands. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

Hundreds of migrating ducks and other waterfowl were struck by vehicles in northwest Iowa after mistaking wet parking lots and roads for wetlands.

“I counted over 200 dead ducks on the highway, and can only imagine how many dead ones were out of sight in the ditch,” state conservation officer Steve Griebel said in a press release. “It was all different species — mostly bluebills, but there were mallards, buffleheads, teal. It must have been an epic migration.”

State wildlife officials attributed the deaths to a combination of weather phenomena. Cold weather in central Canada and the Dakotas drove ducks south, where they encountered mixed precipitation and needed to land.

“Situations similar to this one has been known to occur when you have extreme cold weather that collides with a strong front,” said Orrin Jones, state waterfowl biologist for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “This is a unique, one-time event that there’s nothing much we could do about, and should be over now.”

Read more from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.