Stretching north and west beyond the rich farmland of the Midwestern United States lies one of North America’s most vital habitats: The Prairie Pothole Region. From Iowa, through the Dakotas and Montana, and reaching far into Canada, this landscape was carved by glaciers thousands of years ago.
Here, range and water collide. Countless small wetlands dot the landscape. Each spring the water welcomes migratory birds to return and nest in the vast grasslands surrounding these shallow pools. As much as 50 to 80 percent of North America’s waterfowl originate here.
Bison once grazed the prairie here in droves, serving as managers of the plains. Today, cattle fill that void and the families who raise them play a vital role in conserving this habitat for the benefit of wildlife, ranching and surrounding communities.
Ducks and Cattle: A Surprising Symbiosis
Ducks and cattle may seem an unusual combination, but when it comes to grassland management, they’re a perfect pair.
Research verifies that the presence of cattle in specific geographies correlate positively to the amount of grasslands and wetlands suitable for waterfowl.
The key principle behind Working Grasslands Conservation Initiative, a collaborative effort between Certified Angus Beef and Ducks Unlimited, advances conservation efforts on working ranches. It aims to improve productivity and profitability of grazing lands while preserving wildlife habitat. The current active program area is focused on the Prairie Pothole Region of the Northern Great Plains, including parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana.
Certified Angus Beef and Ducks Unlimited are committed, through this collaboration, to working with ranchers and supply-chain partners to elevate the importance of the cattle industry in the name of waterfowl and broader sustainability outcomes. Preserving working grasslands improves soil health, biodiversity, clean water resources and carbon sequestration.
The efforts of Working Grasslands Conservation Initiative will leverage the resources of Certified Angus Beef and Ducks Unlimited to help raise the sustainability profile of the beef industry along with the lands and waters upon which they depend. Keeping cattle on the land is a shared priority.