Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit Program—1935
Another brainchild of Ding Darling was the Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit program, which was established in 1935 to create centers of excellence in wildlife management at land grant universities across the nation. In addition to conducting research, these units provide education and training for wildlife professionals. Much of the science that guides Ducks Unlimited's work, and many of the professionals who deliver this work, are products of this system.
The 1930s could arguably be called the most transformational decade in the history of wildlife conservation, and Ducks Unlimited was born in the midst of this conservation renaissance. In 1935, the More Game Birds in America Foundation sponsored the International Wild Duck Census, the first comprehensive aerial survey of North America's most important waterfowl breeding grounds. This groundbreaking effort documented the perilous condition of waterfowl habitats and confirmed that the majority of this continent's ducks are produced in Canada. In 1936, More Game Birds founders Joseph Knapp, John Huntington, Arthur Bartley, and Ray Benson gathered at a fishing lodge on the banks of New York's Beaverkill River to discuss the results of this monumental survey. Their discussions led to the incorporation of Ducks Unlimited on January 29, 1937.
The model that DU's founders envisioned was a simple one. They would raise funds in the United States to secure important waterfowl production areas north of the border, where federal duck stamp funds couldn't be spent. A habitat delivery arm was needed, and in March of that same year, Ducks Unlimited Canada was established to fill that need. Thus the vision of these conservation pioneers came to life, and generations of Ducks Unlimited supporters across North America have kept it vibrant for 75 years, raising more than $3.3 billion and conserving more than 12.4 million acres of wildlife habitat in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.