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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Conservation in Canada

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A Snapshot of North American Waterfowl Hunting

Recent data on waterfowl hunter numbers and harvests in Canada and the United States show interesting differences that affect national attitudes toward duck numbers and habitat conservation. Active waterfowl hunters (people who bought a migratory game bird permit and say they hunted) in the United States outnumbered those in Canada by a wide margin—about 9.5 to 1 in 2007 and 2008. Over those same seasons, hunters in the United States bagged about 90 percent of the total waterfowl harvest taken in both countries combined. In addition, nonresident U.S. hunters accounted for 31 percent of the birds in the total Canadian harvest. Clearly, U.S. hunters have a huge stake in the success of habitat conservation north of the 49th parallel.

Creating Positive Change

In a country with so many challenges and limited resources, how does DU create positive change on the land in Canada? According to Dr. Henry Murkin, DU Canada's director of conservation programs, the formula is actually quite simple. "We invest in science, often with university partners, in order to understand both the landscape conditions conducive to good duck production and the functions of wetlands in relation to things like water quality that most Canadians care about," Murkin says. "Then we incorporate what we learn into our conservation plans, directing our dollars to the most promising projects, while encouraging government leaders to develop policies and incentive programs to make additional conservation gains."

The approach is paying off, as demonstrated recently in Manitoba, where wetland drainage led to increased nutrient pollution in Lake Winnipeg. "An information campaign to tell both government leaders and the public about research on wetland drainage and nutrient loading has helped move the government to act," reports Greg Bruce, DU's government relations lead in Manitoba.

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