Science also provides the foundation for DU’s public policy work in support of prairie waterfowl habitat conservation. Ducks Unlimited shares a wealth of scientific data with policymakers and other conservation partners about wetland and waterfowl ecology; the economic benefits of conservation policies; and the demographics, attitudes, and behavior of sportsmen and other constituencies. DU uses this information to encourage policymakers in state, federal, and provincial governments to adopt policies that protect and restore key wetlands and grasslands on the prairies. For example, DU has been a leader in supporting appropriations and reauthorization for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, which has generated millions of dollars for waterfowl habitat conservation on the prairies and across the continent.
Maintaining a sufficient habitat base to support abundant waterfowl populations is a challenging proposition. Scientific information makes it possible for conservation planners to develop effective and efficient conservation programs and also to influence important public policies. Integrated information about productivity of breeding ducks, risk of habitat loss, and cost of protecting habitat provides the foundation for habitat conservation efforts that will continue to ensure that whenever water comes to the prairies, the skies will be filled with ducks.
Johann Walker is manager of conservation programs at DU’s Great Plains office in Bismarck, North Dakota.