More than 200 ducks killed along Highway 20 after confusing wet pavement for wetlands

Local News

WOODBURY COUNTY, Iowa (KCAU) – After winter weather in the area left parking lots and roads wet, a weather phenomenon caused migrating waterfowl in northwest Iowa to mistake wet parking lots and roads with wetlands and marshes on Monday night, resulting in hundreds being hit and killed by vehicles.

According to a release, State Conservation Officer Steve Griebel, of Woodbury County, started getting phone calls and text messages about ducks on the road around 9:30 p.m. on Monday night, then again early Tuesday morning. Griebel said he saw it firsthand today while heading east on Highway 20 toward Highway 71.

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

The migration began when bitter cold settled into central Canada and the Dakotas sending ducks and geese south, and then turned fatal when the waterfowl encountered a strong mixed precipitation weather front and needed to set down.

“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.”

Those looking to utilize the road killed ducks will need to be properly licensed, which means a valid hunting license, habitat fee, migratory game bird fee and federal duck stamp and follow daily bag and possession limits.

Unique weather phenomenon in the Upper Midwest seems to occur in November and the most famous occurred on Armistice Day in 1940, that started with temperatures in the mid-50s and ended with more than a foot of snow, and 150 people and thousands of livestock dead.


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