CALDWELL, Idaho — Federal officials say it’s too early to tell if an increase in the size of no-wake zones for boaters at a wildlife refuge in southwest Idaho had a positive effect on a bird that nests in shallow water.

Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge Manager Annette de Knijf tells the Idaho Press-Tribune ( that a biologist did a survey on western grebes at the refuge this year.

“One of the challenges we have at Deer Flat is monitoring wildlife response,” de Knijf said. “This year we had a biologist from another refuge do initial grebe surveys here, but we do not know the results yet.”

The refuge that contains Lake Lowell is one of three places in Idaho where the western grebe has been known to nest successfully.

Federal officials two years ago approved a plan to increase the no-wake zones that angered some local residents concerned about limits to recreation. The no-wake zones try to balance recreation for humans with the refuge’s responsibility to help wildlife, De Knijf said.

Boating season has ended this year. Although the no-wake regulations have been in place for two years, de Knijf said no tickets have been issued so far. The refuge will issue tickets for no-wake zone violations starting next boating season, she said.

“We anticipated that the first year or two after approval of the Comprehensive Conservation Plan would be primarily educational to make sure the public understands the expanded no-wake zones,” de Knijf said.

The no-wake zone includes a section that joins two larger bodies of water together and the shoreline closest to docks.

Western grebes, de Knijf said, are nearly incapable of walking on land so they build nests on top of the water in shallow areas. Official say large wakes from boats could cause damage to the nests.

Information from: Idaho Press-Tribune,