Low water levels will limit waterfowl hunting opportunities at Canyon Ferry WMA

Wednesday Sep. 22nd, 2021

TOWNSEND – Waterfowl hunting opportunities will be limited on the Canyon Ferry Wildlife Management Area this year during both the youth and general waterfowl seasons due to ongoing extreme drought.  

Pond 2 at the WMA is dry, Pond 4 is expected to be completely dry in about a week, and water levels in Ponds 1 and 3 are also down significantly. There has not been any water going into Ponds 2 or 4 for more than two months, according to Adam Grove, wildlife biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Townsend. 

“There simply has not been enough waterflow in the Missouri River for most of the summer to provide adequate water to the canals that supply water to Ponds 2, 3 and 4 to keep the water levels up,” Grove said.  

Water from the ponds also drains below the surface into Canyon Ferry Reservoir when the reservoir’s water levels are lower than the ponds, which has been the case all summer. Canyon Ferry Reservoir did not come close to reaching full pool this year due to drought conditions, according to Grove.  

Waterfowl hunting opportunities on the WMA will likely be limited this fall. However, low water levels this season may provide some habitat benefits for next season by aerating the soil. If next year is a normal water year, it’s likely the ponds will see positive responses in aquatic vegetation and invertebrates, enhancing habitat for waterfowl.