Maryland Wood Duck Initiative - A Total Wetland Experience
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B&W illustration of wood duck nest box

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DNR biologists Bill Harvey and Josh Homyack working with in the field
In 2007, MWDI proposed the establishment of a Wood Duck Inspector / Instructor Certification Program which has been accepted for co-sponsorship by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS). Since then, the pace has been slower than desired but substantial material has been developed for the creation of a Best Practices Manual.

The objective is to provide a web based / internet sourced educational tool that will increase the awareness of and merits for using “Best Practices” in artificial nesting programs. The program will be based on the development of a descriptive picture based, pragmatic field manual in addition to providing pertinent wood duck background information. Evaluation, implementation and monitoring techniques (and their rationale) for successful management of wood duck nesting programs will be provided. An internet based test will be self-administered and, if passed, the participant will be awarded an Inspector Certificate signifying their proficiency. The program is presently conceptualized at two proficiency levels – Inspector and Instructor. More intensive study, more difficult testing and field work are likely prerequisites for being certified an Instructor.

Student inspecting a Wood Duck Nest BoxThe educational training materials, especially the comprehensive “Best Practices” manual will be developed in such a way that they can be integrated into other wildlife education programs and classrooms. The manual will also provide educational information associated with a “Total Wetland Experience” as various wood duck habitats, plants and invertebrates, other nest box user tendencies and predator issues will be covered.

The Certification Program is expected to be utilized by certain wildlife professionals as an accepted continuing education course. A broad range of outdoor educators, nature enthusiasts, scout programs and private wood duck program sponsors are also expected to participate in the Certification Program or, at least, utilize the Best Practices manual in their pursuits. If successfully implemented, the Certification Program could serve as a template for nationwide adoption by other state agencies in cooperation with the USFWS or by any outdoor education program or curriculum.

MWDI is now planning to apply for a grant so that a dedicated effort can occur in an expedited manner to supplement the ongoing volunteer efforts to develop materials for the Best Practices Manual. A technical review and steering committee of highly trained wildlife professionals will again be formed. Completion of the Best Practices Manual and initial testing of the Inspector Certification process is expected to take two years.

If you would like to assist, please contact Cliff Brown @

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This page updated on June 04, 2012