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Banding Together for Waterfowl

Prairies Under Siege: Ducks, Habitat Conservation & Predators

A closer look at large-scale predator-control programs reveals that they are counterproductive to the long-term benefits of waterfowl and waterfowl hunters
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Mississippi Flyway Council statement and others' positions on predator removal

In March of 2003, the Mississippi Flyway Council (composed of leaders of wildlife agencies from 14 states—MN, WI, MI, OH, KY, IL, IN, IA, MO, AR, TN, MS, LA, AL—and three provinces—Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario—in the Mississippi Flyway) issued the following position statement regarding predator removal:

"The Mississippi Flyway Council (MFC) does not support the practice of predator removal as a viable management practice to improve waterfowl recruitment over the long term or over large geographic areas. The MFC believes that the highest conservation priorities for improving waterfowl recruitment are the landscape-level wetland and grassland habitat restoration strategies advocated by the North American Waterfowl Management Plan (NAWMP). Maintaining waterfowl breeding habitat is the highest priority for the long-term welfare of waterfowl populations in North America."

As part of the justification for its position statement, the MFC also stated: "Furthermore, in an era of limited resources, expending funds on predator removal necessarily competes with landscape habitat programs, the emphasis of the NAWMP. While predator removal should be recognized as one of a suite of management tools available to wildlife managers to be applied on a localized basis, the Mississippi Flyway Council Technical Section [comprised of waterfowl biologists and wildlife managers] believes improving waterfowl recruitment is better accomplished through the primary strategy of large-scale wetland and grassland habitat restoration strategies embraced by the NAWMP."

Also, in August, the Arkansas Wildlife Federation's (AWF) Duck Committee (a group of concerned waterfowl hunters and community leaders) published a comprehensive report on the status of waterfowl hunting in that state. Key conclusions in the report included: "It all starts with the nest and proper habitat. The AWF Duck Committee has found that the more productive prairie pothole habitat we have, the more ducks we will have make the fall flight... Predator management may be helpful in small areas, but it is not believed to be practical on a large scale."

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